1. What services does GreenThumb provide?
The GreenThumb program, by providing materials and technical assistance, continues to support neighborhood volunteers who manage community gardens as active and attractive community resources. GreenThumb serves communities primarily through its warehouse distribution, technical support, and educational workshops.
2. Where are GreenThumb gardens?
GreenThumb gardens are located in all five boroughs of New York City. The majority of GreenThumb gardens are located in economically disadvantaged community planning districts that receive federal financial support through a complement of open space, affordable housing, and economic development. Active garden sites create a stable force in the community and serve as anchors for other redevelopment initiatives.
3. Who are GreenThumb gardeners?
GreenThumb gardeners are neighborhood volunteers interested in public safety, environmental quality, housing, and educational opportunities in their communities. They either live or work near the garden and cooperate to manage each site as a group. GreenThumb gardens are managed by community and block associations that are interested in working to improve their neighborhood through a complement of open space, affordable housing, and economic development opportunities. These gardens have a track record of community involvement and accomplishment; most offer consistent public programming aimed at improving quality of life for residents of all ages.
4. How do I join a garden or become a volunteer?
The way to join a garden or become a volunteer is to contact the garden directly. If you know of a specific garden or gardens, or have a general neighborhood you are interested in, call or email us for the contact information of the people managing those gardens.
GreenThumb does not keep a list of projects or gardens that are in need of volunteers. Instead, volunteer opportunities with gardens are arranged directly between potential volunteers and the gardens themselves. A great resource for locating gardens in the city is the CENYC community garden locator in our “Find Your Garden” page, as well as at www.oasisnyc.net.
5. How can I get basic supplies for my garden?
GreenThumb continues to supply an extensive amount of both basic and specialty gardening supplies. In order to better serve community gardens, we now distribute all supplies through citywide workshops. Please refer to the Quarterly Program Guides to see when specific supplies will be distributed. For especially large supplies, we will still deliver to individual gardens, but only after a garden has attended a workshop and requested the specific supply.
This process helps streamline distribution and makes the process easily accessible and transparent to all garden groups. These workshops are also great opportunities for community garden groups to network with each other and meet experts.
6. How can school groups get GreenThumb support for new projects?
GreenThumb offers support to groups starting new school garden projects by communicating with administrators and teachers involved in the project within the school concerning the next steps, technical or otherwise. GreenThumb also offers material support in the form of tools, lumber, compost, etc. to the school gardens that are unable to get these things themselves.
7. How do I get a permit to use the fire hydrant as a water source this season?
Each year, GreenThumb mails out instructions on obtaining a permit to uncap the fire hydrant near your garden and locations of borough Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offices. Garden contacts should go to the local DEP office and state the name of their garden and affiliation with GreenThumb to get a permit application. Once you complete the permit, mail or fax a copy to GreenThumb. You should have access to water a couple of weeks after completing this process.
8. How can my garden group receive a port-a-san and Pathmark vouchers from GreenThumb this season?
Gardeners should rest assured that GreenThumb will distribute vouchers and port-a-sans to support and stimulate programming and events at gardens. Vouchers will be available through scheduled workshops. By attending these workshops, garden groups quality for $50 Pathmark vouchers for events in the summer and fall.
Garden groups that would like the use of a port-a-san will be given the opportunity to apply for one in June. GreenThumb will send contacts an application, asking them to detail their groups' membership numbers and programming activities. Groups with the highest levels of public programming may be eligible for port-a-sans during the second half of the gardening season.
9. What kind of support can I expect from GreenThumb in publicizing my garden's events?
If submitted three weeks in advance, events presented to GreenThumb will be posted on the website under Events Calendar, as well as in the NYC.gov and Parks Department‘s events calendars. For mailings, there is a limit of one postcard/flyer design and mailing per garden for the season, so save your postcard/flyer for your best event! Also, we are making a computer available in the office with Quark, the design layout program, so that savvy gardeners who need more than one card designed can still have the opportunity to get their cards made and sent.
We are working hard to get a new system in place that will happily accommodate all 450 registered gardens and make sure that our services are available to all gardeners. We would love to be able to publicize all the events happening in gardens, but operationally, our goal is to publicize at least one event in every garden. With this clear goal in mind, we will be better able to serve the gardening community.
10. What should I do if someone dumps large debris on my garden?
Call GreenThumb; we can probably help. GreenThumb works with the Department of Sanitation's lot cleaning division to address large amounts of debris in gardens within City-owned lots. But remember, we don't know it's there unless you tell us. It's your responsibility to report the problem and ask for help in order to keep out of violation and protect your communities from such offenses.
11. What should I do if my garden group needs to dispose of debris collected during a clean-up day?
Call GreenThumb at least one week in advance if your group is going to need a bulk pick-up, particularly if you have collected a large amount of mixed debris including metal and wood. We will work with the Department of Sanitation's lot cleaning division to arrange for a dumpster or pick-up on the day of your event.
For all other days, you should reach out to the Department of Sanitation directly. Sanitation pick-up trucks are supposed to make regular garbage pick-ups at GreenThumb gardens upon request. Contact information for District Sanitation depots can be found in the Yellow Pages or through 311. Gardeners should visit district depots and acquaint themselves with area workers and supervisors. Once a relationship is developed, gardeners should have no trouble receiving pick-ups when necessary. Remember to bag and separate all debris before DOS pick-ups.
12. How can I get materials that are not connected to workshops featured in the Program Guide?
All materials available through the quarterly Program Guides should be acquired through the scheduled citywide workshops. If, after reviewing the Program Guide, you realize there is a material not listed, you may call Harold Paynter, Operations Coordinator, at (212) 788-8076 to inquire if it is available. New or relocating groups in need of large amounts of materials may arrange with Chris to pick up items at the LRP / GT compound in Queens. If you are in need of special services, your group may need to coordinate your own transportation, so plan in advance.
13. What should I do if my garden group decides to build a gazebo or casita?
All construction projects must be approved and supervised by GreenThumb. Please call Operations Coordinator Harold Paynter at (212) 788-8076. If you need assistance, he will also be available to help your garden develop safe and environmentally sound structures.
14. What should I do if a contractor tries to set up shop in part of my garden?
Call GreenThumb and 311 immediately. Address the contractor and explain that the City owns the garden lot(s) and get the contractor's contact info (if possible) for us to follow-up. Contractors without permits from the owning agency (Parks or HPD) have no right to use garden lots when working on neighboring projects. The Parks Department has created strict new policies designed to protect gardeners from unwanted and unnecessary disruption. The Agency is currently taking action against contractors guilty of destroying garden lots over the past two years. Please help us to keep this from happening in the future.