This is the fifth and last in a series on a selection of some of the many community gardens in the East Village in Manhattan, New York. Some of the gardens I photographed are gone or may be soon. Some of the gardens are not so pretty and are only used as places to socialize. The majority of the gardens that I photographed in this series still exist and are lovely tranquil gardens (captions are dated beginning by year month and day).
Lower East Side neighborhoods once had close to 60 registered community gardens but many were bulldozed as the area gentrified, supporters said. Although about 46 gardens remain, the area has the highest concentration of community gardens in the city.
Most of the gardens however, sit on city-owned land, leaving them vulnerable to development, the gardeners said. City-owned community gardens are still documented in city records as vacant lots and are subject to revocation at any time.
If the gardens are designated as parkland the law would require the state legislature to weigh in before the gardens could be removed. According to the Parks Department — which runs the city’s GreenThumb community gardening program — “the interim nature of the garden” is made clear when a group wins approval to start a community garden, a spokesman said. Once a garden is approved by the city gardeners must write a letter to the community board indicating that it understands that the garden is not permanent and that will not hinder development plans.
Hope Garden 193 East 2nd Street between Avenues A & B in Noho. Owned by DPR listed inain GreenThumb. The 1,987 square foot garden was founded in 1993. Open Hours Sunday: 10a-5p and Tuesday: 6p-9p.
Peach Tree 236-238 East 2nd Street, between Avenues B & C. Peachtree Community Garden was founded originally in 1982 as The East 2nd Street Block Association Garden, an official Greenthumb garden by Scott Bart on, Benito Claudio and Jill London. Together, they planted the original peach tree which now lends its name to the garden. Since then, it has been used for gardening and to hold regular community meetings. The original members of Peachtree Community Garden were instrumental in forcing the drug dens off our block.
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Le Petit Versailles346 East Houston between Avenues B & C. Le Petit Versailles is a unique marriage of a verdant oasis and an electrifying arts organization, offering a range of quirky performances and screenings to the public.
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East Houston areas of interest.
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Clinton Garden and Committee of Poor People of the Lower East Side 171 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002. A small Green Thumb garden created in 1993. With places to sit and read or listen to music. Often there are barbeques on weekends and special occasions.
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Dorothy Strelsin Memorial Garden 174 Suffolk. Established in 1980 and originally named Iglesia Pentacostal Arca de Salvacion. This 2385 Square foot garden was cleaned up in 2002 by volunteers from “Ground Force” – a BBC America television production – and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) staff.
The garden is cared for by community residents, many of whom grow tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables there, including peppers and eggplant. Featuring a casita – a garden structure common to Puerto Rican gardens that includes a small porch for community activities and storage space – this shared green space provides a picturesque setting for barbecues and many other gatherings. In addition, the neighborhood hosts street fairs, with the garden providing a focal point for these celebrations.
The Dorothy Strelsin Memorial Community Garden received a generous grant from the Dorothy Strelsin Foundation to add a performance area – which includes seating and a bluestone patio – and storage space, both located at the back of the property. Commissioned by NYRP, photographer and furniture designer Eric Slayton, in collaboration with Susannah Drake of dlandstudio and Annette Wilkus of SiteWorks, LLC, worked with community members and NYRP staff to create a versatile design to accommodate both performance and community needs.
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Children’s Magical Garden (CMG) on the corner of Norfolk & Stanton Streets has been used continuously for over 30 years providing food, education and soul-nourishment to the neighborhood’s children and people of all ages. In May 2013 a developer tore the garden in two by putting up a fence in the middle.
Generation X Cultural Garden at 270 East 4th Street. South side of East 4th Street between Avenues B & C was created in 1971. This Lower East Side space includes Geoblock paving and has a viewing area for multi-media performances. It has a masonry retaining wall created for planting areas where blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries grow in season. Nectarine, pear, peach and apple trees form a mini urban orchard. All garden furniture and planters are made from recycled materials. Events featuring Greenmarket farmers, Youth market displays, TAiNO arts and crafts, and healthy eating and tasting sessions with international foods saw more than 2,000 local school children from the neighborhood participate. Volunteers do weeding, watering, planting and mulching. This open plot is used for community gatherings. It also has an arbor built with unique hand-carved posts.
Secret Garden 293-297 East 4th Street at Avenue C. Founded 1983. The garden produces food and has flowers, shade trees and seating. Garden Size: 2,209 square feet. Created with the help of a Community Development Block Grant. Open Hours Sunday: 12p-5p Saturday: 12p-5p.
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El Jarden Del Paraiso (El-Jardin-del-Paraiso-NYC on Facebook) El Jardin del Paraiso is a community garden located on 5th Street between Avenues C & D in New York City. A goal of El Jardin del Paraiso is to be a model eco park teaching sustainability and Earth stewardship. We will include permaculture principles, diverse habitats, stormwater resource usage and water purification, soil restoration, renewable energy, preservation of endangered plants, seed saving, cold climate growing techniques, and composting.
This garden received a planning grant from GreenAcre for a complete rehabilitation. A landscape architect was hired to redesign the plot and the park has since received an additional GreenAcre grant to implement the plan. Numerous awards and achievements have been bestowed upon El Jardin del Paraiso, including The National Wildlife Award, Molly Parnis Dress Up Your Neighborhood Award and a Youth Garden Grant from the National Gardening Association for the Children’s Garden. Cultural events have included a sculpture exhibition, mask making, children’s films, jazz concerts, puppet making and performances, bicycle workshops, Halloween, Festival of Lights, the Holy Cross Festival, Fathers’ and Mothers’ Day celebrations, and a cook off.
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Parque De Tranquilidad at 314-318 East 4th Street between Avenues C & D and founded in 2/1/1979. Open Hours are T-F 11 am – 1:30 pm Sunday 10 am – 6 pm Tuesday. Meditation 6:30 pm – 8 pm. Parque de Tranquilidad has a strong connection to this history – one third of it sits upon the former site of the Synagogue Chevra Bikur Cholim B’nai Israel Anshei Baranov (built in 1887), which collapsed during demolition of nearby fire-damaged buildings during the economic plight of the 1970’s.
This lovely garden shaded by mature trees, winding stone-dust paths and numerous seating opportunities. In 2004, GrowNYC worked with gardeners modify pathways for wheelchairs. The garden got a new tool shed, wood fencing, birdhouse, and flagstone entry. The garden also received extensive plantings donated by Chelsea Garden Center. The garden displays lace-cap hydrangeas, antique roses, Rose of Sharon, daylilies, etc. Transferred to the Manhattan Land Trust by TPL, which provided the garden with a permanent water supply.
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Synagogue Chevra Bikur Cholim B’nai Israel Anshei Baranov 1887
Orchard Alley Stretches the full width of the block bet. E. 3rd & 4th Streets between Avenues C & D. This park occupies the width of the block on a large open lot with the entrance on 4th Street. It has undergone a lot of recent rehabilitation. As one of the last gardens created in an extremely large lot, there was not a lot of initial optimism that it would survive the onslaught of the city’s bulldozers. Fortunately, it has survived as one of the premier horticultural gardens in the neighborhood. It has fruit trees, flowers such as alliums and tiger lilies, herbs, and winding paths. Its lot reaches East 3rd Street, but the entrance is only through East 4th.
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All People’s Garden 295 East 3rd Street on the north side between Avenues C & D. This garden is a Manhattan Land Trust property, and is maintained by neighborhood volunteer members. All People’s Garden, as so many others in the city was carved out of two vacant NYC owned garbage strewn, drug infested lots. This beautiful urban garden is botanical in nature, and connects the community both environmentally and culturally.
By 1980 these vacant sites became a thriving green space. In 1999 under a court order secure by Eliot Spitzer the then NYS Attorney General, the garden was saved through and agreement between the City of New York and the Trust for Public Land. Through a grant from the Frankel Foundation and partnership with the Coalition on the Environment (GROWnyc) the garden was completely redeveloped in 2003. In 2004 All People’s Garden, Inc. working with TPL formed a coalition with thirteen (13) other community gardens located in Manhattan to form The Manhattan Land Trust. All People’s Garden is a private space, staff by volunteers and held in trust for the benefit of the entire community in perpetuity.
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Brisas Del Caribe North side of E. 3rd Street between Avenues B & C. This garden is decorated with eclectic collectables and has white picket fences along its walks and flower beds.
Jardin Los Amigos Garden North side of E. 3rd Street between Avenues B & C. This garden is known for its changing seasonal and holiday installations.
Kenkeleba House Garden Stretches the full width of the block between East 2nd & 3rd Streets between Avenues B & C. This park has a large outdoor sculpture yard on its north side which you can get to from East 3rd Street. Kenkeleba House Garden is the outdoor sculpture area of Kenkeleba House, an art gallery in the East Village. Entry to both the museum and the sculpture garden is free—the garden is accessible to the public whenever the gate is open (the official hours are Thursday and Friday, 10:30am–6:30pm; Saturday, 10am–4pm). The sculptures include pieces from local artists and, on occasion, visitors can catch live music in the garden.
Kenkeleba Garden, named for an African healing plant. Densely forested greenery around to the back leads to a sculpture garden, which is only visible from 3rd Street. Large African sculptures and collections of scraps or bricolage, a specialty of the Lower East Side art scene, occupy the garden. Joe Overstreet and his wife, Corinne Jennings oversee Kenkeleba House gallery.
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Miracle Garden at 194-196 East 3rd Street between Avenues A & B was begun in 1983. It is a beautiful garden with a variety of plantings. The rear area of the garden is obscured from the street and is a calm, cool respite on a hot summer day. For access to the garden inquire next door at Mama’s Restaurant. A winding path leads visitors past with a variety of plantings, a picnic table, benches, and ornamentals, and opens into a meeting area obscured from the street, making it a calm, cool respite on a hot summer day. The rear part of the garden also includes a gazebo/stage area, a tool shed, rainwater harvesting system, and plenty of seating.
The Creative Little Garden at 530 E 6th Street between Avenue A and B is an example of how New Yorkers can make the most out of any space. Opened in 1982 on the site of a former tenement building that burned down, this 24-by-100-foot garden, with 40 to 80 members at any one time, features a winding birch-chip path, eight sculptures, a waterfall, a wide variety of flora and fauna, and a collection of birdhouses. The path winds past azaleas, tulips, hydrangeas, ferns, rose bushes and bleeding hearts, ending at a slate patio under a willow tree. The Creative Little Garden is open every day.
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6 & B Garden is a 17,813 square foot. lush, green oasis offering beauty, peace, education and entertainment to local residents and visitors of all ages. The Garden contains fruiting trees, flowering shrubs and innumerable herbs, flowers and vegetables. Members cultivate raised beds of soil (plots) and stage programs of crafts, horticultural/science workshops, culinary events, films, multicultural festivals, and musical and theatrical performances from around the world. The Garden serves as an anchor and working model of preservation for the City’s network of community gardens which have transformed the environment of the East Village / Lower East Side.
The Garden is operated by 6th Street and Avenue B Garden, Inc., a 501(c)3 not-for- profit corporation and operates under the name “6th & B Garden”. 6th & B Garden is licensed by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation as a GreenThumb Garden. GreenThumb provides programming and material support to over 600 community gardens in all five boroughs of New York City. Click to read the history of the garden.
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Liz Christie Bowery-Houston Garden was the First Community Garden in New York City founded in 1973; it is located on the northeast corner of Bowery and Houston Streets in Manhattan. The garden has a 2.5-foot-deep pond and the fish and red-eared slider turtles live there year round. The garden also has wildflowers, wooden furniture, a grape arbor, a grove of weeping birch trees, fruit trees, a dawn redwood, vegetable gardens, berries, herbs and hundreds of varieties of flowering perennials. Sections are designed and tended by the garden members; general maintenance is shared. This natural place can be enjoyed in every season during the weekly open hours.
During the 17th Century at the corner of Bouwerie and North Street was the southern tip of a large farm owned by Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam.
In 1973 a local resident named Liz Christy and a group of gardening activists known as the Green Guerillas were planting window boxes, vacant lots with ‘seed bombs’ and tree pits in the neighborhood. In December went to the City to find a way to gain official use of the land. Volunteers hauled the garbage and rubble out, spread donated topsoil, installed a fence and began planting.
On April 23, 1974, the City’s office of Housing Preservation and Development approved the site for rental as the “Bowery Houston Community Farm and Garden” for $1 a month. Sixty raised beds were planted with vegetables, and then trees and herbaceous borders were added. In their second year this forerunner of today’s urban community gardens won its first Mollie Parnis Dress Up Your Neighborhood Award. The Green Guerillas ran workshops and planted experimental plots to learn how a wide range of plants could be grown in hostile conditions.
In 1986 the Garden was dedicated Liz Christy’s Bowery-Houston Garden, in memory of its founder. In 1990, after years of uncertainty and a ground swell of support, the local development group, the Cooper Square Committee, pledged to preserve the garden in its entirety in its renovation plans for our neighborhood. The 2002 agreement between the City of New York and the NYS Attorney General calls for the preservation of the Liz Christy Garden.
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Albert’s Garden on the north side of 2nd Street between Bowery and 2nd Ave. A quiet shade garden with a goldfish pond framed against the south stone wall of The New York Marble Cemetery. Albert’s Garden is a Manhattan Land Trust property, and is maintained by neighborhood volunteer members.
The 11th Street Community Garden between 1st Avenue and Avenue A. This formerly overgrown, litter strewn lot wedged between two tenements was converted into a garden in 1982 and is tended by volunteers. It contains mature plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials, a sheltered picnic area, and brick paths. Every weekend in the summer, the community comes together for barbeques and poetry readings. Over 60 members help maintain the numerous flowers, vegetables and herbs. This garden has the support of community board three to remain a permanent garden site.
The Manhattan Land Trust, which helps manage the garden along with its local volunteers, saved the gardens from auction by the Trust for Public Land in 1999. Flower beds with hydrangeas and other flowers alternate with individual raised plots, pine and other trees, shrubs and a wooden semi-circular benched patio. Rain barrels recycle rain water. The entrance way with a simple wooden trellis and vines is immediately inviting.
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Dias y Flores Garden on 13th Street between Avenues A and B. Dias y Flores is one of the oldest and nicest communal gardens on a narrow lot planted with trees, shrubs and flowers. The name Dias y Flores (Days and Flowers) is taken from a hauntingly beautiful song about hope and growing by Silvio Rodriguez. Glass bottle bottoms are inserted into geometric patterns to embellish its brick paths by Artist Bob Lasher. Then there are wall mosaics. It has individual vegetable plots, herbs, and communal areas.
This is how many of the gardens in the East Village came about: On this site was an abandoned building in the early 1970’s, it slowly fell prey to disrepair and drug trade. The City took it over and tore it down in 1976 leaving a rubble-strewn lot.
In 1978, the 13th Street Block Association began the task of converting it into a community lot, with a garden and a playground, by clearing out the rubble, and trash–from broken hypodermic needles to refrigerators and car parts.
Along with the help of Greenthumb, most of the trees and shrubs were planted by 1981. These include: Kousa Dogwood, Ornamental Cherry, Callary Pear, Yew, Apple, vibernum, Fragrant Sumac, Spirea, Juniper, and many rose bushes. A Citizens Committee grant in 2002 help create a fish pond and a solar-powered fountain. A rain-water collection system installed with help from the Council on the Environment of NYC.
In 1998, with the support of Trust for Public Land, a patio was built for community events and a summer workshop series. Horticulture, yoga, Tai Chi, drawing, herbology, and many other art, science, and craft classes are offered. Other annual events include a Spring Sidewalk Swap and Plant Sale, Poetry Jam, end-of-season Live Music Dance Party, Haunted Halloween, a Winter Solstice sing-along and bonfire, and many other informal gatherings and events. The garden has a neighborhood composting program.
Relaxation Garden (Yu Suen Dragon Garden) at the corner of 13th street and Avenue B. The Relaxation Garden is so full of small and large decorative objects that it’s hard to find any green and is primarily for the community to use for play and relaxation.
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Pa Plaza Cultural: El Sol Brillante Sr., Joseph C Saur Park and The Children’s Garden on 12th Street between Avenues A and B.
El Sol Brillante has a wrought-iron fence of whimsical animals by Julie Dermansky. The garden has fig, peach and kiwi trees, flowers such as oak hydrangeas and roses, vegetables, herbs, a solar powered pump, and numerous shady spots to rest in. Bees visit in the daytime and fireflies at night. This garden which is under a Land Trust has been around for over thirty years. It manages to provide a good balance between individual plot beds and communal areas that include comfortable spots to sit, eat, drink and admire the landscape which includes bees in the daytime and fireflies at night. Cobblestones have been cleverly used to create a quiet stepped pathway in the rear of the garden.
The much larger, well-equipped Sauer landscaped city playground is bounded to the east by the Children’s Garden, which has a mural as well as play area for children, and on the west by El Sol Brillante, a large garden. This is the best playground for neighborhood children and its proximity to a variety of gardens encourages exploration. This is one of the greenest corners in Manhattan.
Pa Plaza Cultural is composed of multiple city plots that were combined together after adjacent buildings burnt or fell down. The very density of gardens in this area is a strong indication of just how badly this part of the neighborhood was affected when it was burning down. The longevity of the garden is attested to by the size of its trees, including one which is taller than the neighboring seven-story tenement.
Earth People Community Garden on E 8th Street between Avenues B and C. The Earth People Garden sports elegant brick pathways and shaded glades, it also has a rather idiosyncratic display of rubber toys, e.g., crocodiles at the entranceway.
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Vamos Sambrar Garden and 200 Avenue B Association Garden on Avenue B between 12and 13 Streets. Are two Latino mini gardens subdividing a tiny plot.
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Campos Garden on 12th Street between Avenues C and D. The Campos Garden in the last few years has worked hard to change into a volunteer based working garden. Located in an area in which many residents live in city projects, this lovely welcoming sun-filled garden fills many needs for the local population and grows a lively mix of vegetables (including corn), herbs and flowers and has expanded to what is now twelve raised plot beds. Like most of the gardens, Campos welcomes both volunteers and visitors.
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Toyota East Children’s Learning Garden on 11th Street between avenues B and C. The Toyota Children’s Learning Garden was rescued in 1999, this one by the New York Restoration Project (NYRP was founded by Bette Midler) with the land being safeguarded in perpetuity through its New York Garden Trust. NYRP states on their website “Like other greening organizations, NYRP understands the important social, environmental, and even economic roles that community gardens play in New York City…Our goal is to help neighborhood residents develop these shared patches of green into beloved institutions that bring beauty, joy, health, and revitalization to struggling communities across the city.”
In 2007, Toyota provided funding for this designer garden by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Winding marble pathways, shaded arbors, benches, bamboo groves, make it an inviting yet chic place. NYRP will be running science and other programs to serve the over 22,000 children in the immediate area. Children will be learning garden maintenance techniques, such as composting.
The front of the space features an upland habitat garden. A reclaimed, white-marble walkway runs beneath a lush kiwi vine supported by a steel arbor made by Brooklyn artisans. The back of the space houses a wetland habitat fed by rainwater harvested from the roof of an adjacent building. Benches of black locust provide seating throughout the garden. At the front of the garden is a lot-wide tree pit on the sidewalk that creates a bioswale (Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. They consist of a swaled drainage course with gently sloped sides filled with vegetation, compost and/or riprap.) to divert stormwater from overflowing into the sewer system.
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11 BC Garden The 11BC Garden has lovely, circling brick pathways and plantings. Situated between two tall tenements. For some years it has had nesting falcons take advantage of its location (the Lower East Side does not lack for pigeons and even larger hawks have been spotted in the neighborhood).