Start a Garden
For those interested in starting a garden project, please keep in mind that there are over 600 community gardens throughout the five boroughs. If you cannot find a garden in your neighborhood, here are a few steps for starting a new community garden.
- Identify a city owned “vacant” lot: Whether on your block or other blocks in your neighborhood please make sure to choose sites which have not been used in years. Pinpoint the site’s location and write it down. Be sure to note the exact location of the lot.
- Find the Block and Lot number and contact the property owner/manager. You can visit www.oasisnyc.net and use the mapping system to find this information using the indentify lot function or www.propertyshark.com. If you cannot find the landowner on either site, visit your borough’s Records Office. For $0.50, you can buy a copy of the block map, which gives you the surveyor’s dimensions of the garden and the block/lot numbers. With these numbers, you can also approach your community board to determine who the property owner is.
- Call Roland Chouloute, our Deputy Director, at (212) 442-8952, or email him at Roland.Chouloute@parks.nyc.gov to set up a site visit.
- Get the community involved by planning a meeting that brings together as many of your neighbors as possible to discuss the project. Publicize your meeting with posters, phone calls and in local papers or newsletters. Use multi–lingual announcements to get the word out to the whole community. As a group, make decisions about issues that are important for you and develop a comprehensive project proposal. This document should include the following:
- Mission/ vision statement listing benefits to the community
- List of community members interested in the project (at least 10 names, addresses and phone numbers and emails)
- Sketch or rendering of project
- List of partners/sponsors/endorsers (including churches, school, local business, city agencies, etc)
- Contact your Community Board. Many Community Boards have Open Space/Land Use Committees that directly address their area’s public space issues. Having these committees endorse your project is very instrumental in gaining support from other agencies and organizations. Please check this link to find your community board.
- If approved, complete the GreenThumb application for the new site
- GreenThumb coordinates with the appropriate City Agency to coordinate the licensing agreement, contingent on land-holder agency agreement (Suitable 1 or Suitable 2)
Suitable 1 – DPR site, available for four year renewable license
Suitable 2 – site is available on an interim basis (1 or 2 year license agreement). Potentially renewable, but not guaranteed.
- Register your group with GreenThumb. Contact our office for information on registering your group by calling (212) 442-0155. You will receive our quarterly Program Guides that lists community education workshops, which also act as access points for supply distribution. You should also look to other agencies or organizations for assistance. Visit our “Partner Links” page for a list of greening partners and organizations.
- Start to build your garden