This annotated bibliography was prepared for Professor Nancy Friedland’s summer course, Researching Local History: Cities and Towns at Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Science. I created this guide as a consultation project for a fictional client interested in community gardens. Many of the resources from this project were helpful in creating the NYC Garden Maps website.
Community Garden Resources
If you are thinking of starting a community garden in New York City, the following resources will help you in building and managing your garden and locating organizations that can provide education, supplies and grant funding. These resources cover information on community gardening in New York City, including the history of community gardening, guidelines specific to New York City gardens, and general information about gardening.
A number of organizations provide training and small monetary grants, which can be used in developing and managing your garden activities and events. Events can range from large, national conferences held at one of the City’s many convocation venue to small workshops that can be taught to members of your community at your garden. Some organizations also provide assistance with outreach and political action.
American Community Gardening Association. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.communitygarden.org/
This non-profit membership organization provides resources and networking opportunities for community gardeners in the United States. The ACGA held an event at Columbia University last year. Their calendar lists a number of local and regional events. They offer two guidebooks on developing community programs including, Growing Communities: How to Build Community Through Community Gardening and Cultivating Community: Principles and Practices for Community Gardening as a Community-Building Tool, and also publish an annual The Community Greening Review.
National Gardening Association. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.garden.org
The National Gardening Association hosts an annual gardening conference and provides resources and training for home and professional gardeners. Their newsletter, “Celebrating the Seasons: Newsletter from the National Gardening Association” (http://www.garden.org/celebratingtheseasons/) provides tips by season and region.
General Resources on Community Gardening
The Old Farmers’ Almanac: calculated on a new and improved plan for the year of our Lord 2013. (2012). Dublin, NH: Yankee Publishing Incorporated.
The Old Farmers’ Almanac, published annually, has been an essential resource for farmers and gardeners since the mid-19th century. It includes weather predictions and climate trends, gardening tips, planting guides by region, recipes and general interest articles on health, parenting and entertaining. It is available as a paper serial and online at http://www.almanac.com. Particularly useful to gardeners ifs the gardening planting table at http://www.almanac.com/garden/plantingtable/index.php
About.com Organic Gardening. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://organicgardening.about.com/
The About.com website provides links to internet resources arranged by topic. The Organic Gardening guide is a useful reference, particularly since GreenThumb gardens require organic methods
Resources from New York City Parks Department
Operation Green Thumb. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.greenthumbnyc.org
NYC Parks Department manages community gardens through Operation Green Thumb, a program that provides training and materials as well as guidebooks for creating and running a community garden on NYC Park property. It includes a listing of all GreenThumb gardens and downloadable guides including the “Green Thumb Gardeners’ Handbook” and a school garden resource guide, “Growing School and Youth Gardens in New York City.” They also maintain a calendar of workshops and community events held citywide.
The Green Thumb Gardeners’ Handbook. (2013). New York: Green Thumb / City of New York / Department of Parks & Recreation. Electronic document. Retrieved from http://www.greenthumbnyc.org/pdf/gardeners_handbook.pdf
Growing School and Youth Gardens in New York City. New York: Green Thumb / City of New York / Department of Parks & Recreation. Electronic document. Retrieved from http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_about/partners/greenthumb/school_garden_resource_guide.pdf
NYC.Gov Gardening Resources
New York City Parks Library. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/library
Located in the Armory in Central Park at 64th Street, the New York City Parks library is open by appointment for researchers seeking to learn about the City’s parks and open spaces. The library contains minutes and annual reports of the Park Board of Commissioners from 1856 to 1930, and contains an archival collection of Robert Moses’ work as the Parks Department commissioner. It also contains 2,000 books, periodicals and videos on topics related to the City’s parks.
Garden Program – New York City Housing Authority – NYC.gov. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/community/garden.shtml
The NYC Housing Authority sponsors community garden programs at its properties throughout the city. It sponsors an annual Citywide Resident Garden Competition, which awards prizes in Flower, Vegetable and Theme Garden categories. The NYCHA program provides technical assistance to residents and free seeds and bulbs and has recently started planting trees as well. This is another great way to engage the community around a common interest.
Organizing a Community Garden – Structure and Rules
GreenThumb Gardens: Rules and Regulations. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nycgovparks.org/rules/section-6
This resource outlines rules and regulations that all gardens operated under the NYC Parks Department’s GreenThumb program must follow. Green Thumb recommends creating bylaws governing the operations of the garden and urges gardens to have new members read and sign off on the bylaws. They also recommend naming a treasurer to create and maintain a bookkeeping system. Gardens are not required to incorporate, but should ally with another party to serve as fiscal conduit to hold funds securely in a bank account. This can be Green Thumb or another body.
Sample By-Laws and Garden Rules:
Garden Bylaws. (n.d.). Carrie McCracken TRUCE Community. Web. Retrieved from http://harlemgarden.org/about/garden-by-laws/
Morris Jumel Community Garden. (n.d.). Garden Bylaws. Web. Retrieved from http://morrisjumelcommunitygarden.wordpress.com/bylaws/
Reminders, Rules and Regulations. West 104th Street Community Garden. Web. Retrieved from http://west104garden.org/rules.php
A number of individual community gardens have posted their bylaws and membership rules online. Some examples are listed above. People who are thinking of starting a community garden will find this resource valuable in planning the type of governing board they wish to set up and developing general rules for garden use and member responsibilities.
New York City Public Gardens
Brooklyn Botanic Garden. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.bbg.org.
Like the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, The Brooklyn Botanic Garden serves as a demonstration garden and provides training and special programming of interest to gardeners. Their Certificate in Horticulture includes courses such as botany, pest control, soil management and urban garden design. The design classes would be particularly useful for gardens that are just starting or who are thinking about redeveloping its footprint.
New York Botanical Garden. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nybg.org.
The New York Botanical Garden offers year round courses on topics in gardening, plant science and sustainability, including a Gardening Certificate. Courses include soil science, identifying disease, pruning, pest management, and beekeeping among other topics. The New York Botanical Garden can also serve as a demonstration garden for plant species a gardener is considering growing.
Wave Hill (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.wavehill.org/
Wave Hill is a public garden and education center located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. It’s focus is on training teachers and children in connecting the natural world to the classroom. This is a very good resource for teachers who are contemplating adding a garden to their school curriculum.
Gardening and Open Space Organizations
Added Value. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://added-value.org/
Added Value is the organization behind the Red Hook Community Farm in southern Brooklyn, a working farm, which was created in 2002 to address economic inequities in distribution of fresh produce in New York City. Their initiatives promote youth empowerment through a year-long training program for area high-school student in farm economics and political activism. Added Value operates a green market and CSA and has since started a farm at Governor’s Island.
Citizens Committee of New York City. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.citizensnyc.org/
This organization is committed to helping New Yorkers, particularly those in low income communities, improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. They provide small grants to community organizations, including gardens. The grants can help fund programs, such as composting and special events. They also provide workshops and project-planning assistance.
Farming Concrete. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://farmingconcrete.org
Farming Concrete helps community gardens in the city measure their output to see how many of our gardens might actually be considered farms in the national agricultural census. Such farms would conceivably be entitled to take advantage of U.S. federal agriculture assistance. Farming Concrete provides weight scales and a logbook to member gardens for recording garden yield.
Green Guerillas. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.greenguerillas.org/
Green Guerillas is an education and advocacy group providing community and youth engagement in the greening of New York City. Their initiatives include plant giveaways, community organizing assistance, youth community service and farm market programs, and events geared toward the needs of community gardeners. With many programs geared toward youth, this organization is the closest to the spirit of Mrs. Henry G. Parsons’ 1902 initiative at De Witt Clinton Park garden.
GrowNYC. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.grownyc.org
GrowNYC, started in 1970 as the Council on the Environment of New York City, provides resources on New York City greenmarkets and gardening programs. Some of the services include the operation of 54 farmers greenmarkets citywide, 70 school and community gardens, the GrowTruck Tool Lending library, which provides tools and training to communities, and support and training for 80 rainwater harvesting systems in gardens throughout the city.
New York City Community Gardens Coalition. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nyccgc.org/
The New York City Community Gardens Coalition hosts an annual event, “Community Gardeners’ Forum,” keeping gardeners apprised of gardening activity and legislation in the City. Members of City Council and the borough presidents are frequently in attendance. This organization is a good resource for actions that affect open space and garden property and offers political engagement to gardeners.
New York Restoration Project. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nyrp.org
New York Restoration Project, founded by entertainer Bette Midler, is a private organization that purchases and redevelops vacant lots into community gardens. This organization presents an alternative to city-run gardens.
NYC Change By Us. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://nyc.changeby.us/
Change By Us is a national program that encourages citizens to think about ways to improve their local communities. Pilot programs include New York City, Phoenix and Philadelphia. Users can share their ideas and join project teams to realize their goals. The NYC program includes suggestions for developing community garden programs.
Partnership for Parks. Web. Retrieved from http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/partnerships-for-parks/
Partnership for Parks supports collaboration and engagement between people and the government to help neighborhood parks thrive. They offer Capacity Fund Grants in amounts ranging from $250 to $5000 to strengthen membership, programming planning and outreach at community groups, such as parks.
Trust for Public Land: New York City Community Gardens. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.tpl.org/what-we-do/where-we-work/new-york/community-gardens.html
The Trust for Public Land is a national, non-profit conservation group, whose mission is to protect land in and near cities for use as playgrounds and parks. In New York City, the Trust acquires and operates community gardens throughout New York City. Similar to organizations like the New York Restoration Project and the Nature Conservancy, it is an example of a private, non-profit strategy for ownership and protection of open space.
Manhattan Land Trusts (http://www.manhattanlandtrust.org/) – 14 gardens
Bronx Land Trusts (http://www.bronxlandtrust.org/) – 16 gardens
Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (http://www.bqlt.org) – 34 gardens
Community Gardening History
Farm Gardens. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/community-gardens/farm-gardens
The NYC Department of Parks provides this historical overview of farm gardens in the city, including the evolution of Mrs. Henry G. Parson’s work developing the first garden at De Witt Clinton Park and an unexpected note about Robert Moses in developing community farm gardens throughout the City. Moses, better known for creating the City’s highway systems, was one-time Commissioner of Parks who championed gardening programs at schools. There is a brief mention of the Red Hook community garden, which set of a revival of urban farming in the 1990s, in response to a growing organic and locavore movement.
History of Community Gardens, NYC Parks. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/community-gardens
The New York City Parks department provides an historical overview of community gardening and farm gardens in New York City, from the first farm garden created by Mrs. Henry G. Parsons at De Witt Clinton Park in Manhattan in 1902 to the movements that created and challenged gardening programs in New York City ever since. It has a small number of historical photographs and descriptions of various movements throughout the City’s history. It, unfortunately, does not include citations, which would have been helpful since the city holds a wealth of information about these programs in its Municipal Archives and the Parks Department Library.
Lawson, L. J. City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
This book provides a broad overview of the community garden movement from Depression era school and farm gardens to WWI and WWII victory gardens to the modern urban garden movement. It examines the social and economic factors surrounding the practice of urban gardening. It includes organizational strategies and tips for motivating volunteer efforts. It is useful both as a history lesson in urban gardening, but also as a practical guide.
von Hassell, M. (2002). The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garve.
This book, by Malve von Hassel, who holds a PhD in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research, explores the history of urban gardening in the United States with an ethnographic study of gardens and gardeners in the Lower East Side in Manhattan. It is a scholarly work and may be too much so for a typical community garden organizer; however, it is one of the few works that focus specifically on the late 20th century during the Giuliani administration and the political activism behind today’s community greening movement.
GardenMaps.org. (n.s.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.gardenmaps.org.
GardenMaps was created by Mara Gittleman and Lenny Librizi as an update to the OASIS maps to support the GrowNYC and GreenThumb community gardening programs. In addition to the features available on OASIS, GardenMaps includes information about the types of plants and animals grown at each garden, structures such as rainwater catchment systems, chicken coops and gazebos, composting systems, partnership affiliations, volunteer opportunities, and whether the garden can be rented for public and private events, among many other data points.
OASIS NYC. (n.d.). Web. Retrieved from http://www.oasisnyc.net/
OASIS, or Open Area Spatial Information System is an interactive map of open space in New York City, created in 1996 by CMAP at the New York Public Interest Research Group and currently maintained by CUNY’s Spatial Data Center. It utilizes a powerful GIS tool to allow users to map and analyze open space issues in New York City. One of the first projects undertaken by OASIS involved community gardens. The site also links to a great number of community garden resources at http://www.oasisnyc.net/garden/resources.aspx.
Sanborn Map Company. (1997). Fire insurance maps from the Sanborn Map Company Archives: New York City late 19th century to 1990. [Microform]. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America.
The Sanborn Map Company produced maps from 1866 to the present day. Like Bromley’s maps these are created for fire insurance purposes, and include detail on building construction, lot dimensions, and occasionally ownership. Sanborn’s maps of New York City also contain features such as fire hydrants and the locations of sprinkler systems and openings in walls and roofs. Graphical references to pre-grid streets and property lines and ownership show what was there before the City’s master plan was enacted. These maps are particularly useful for tracking structures existing in a particular location over time. One drawback was the use of “paste-overs” to mark incremental changes to an edition. While it afforded the company the ability to keep maps up to date without requiring a full reprint, it obscures some data that may be of use to in historical research.
Books on Gardening in NYC
Berner, N. & S. Lowry. (2002). Garden Guide: New York City
From the Garden Guides series of tourist books, this volume covers over 100 public gardens in New York City. Some of the spaces included are community gardens, in addition to the larger sites, like the New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Central Park Conservancy Garden. Gardeners may wish to use this guide to visit other gardens and get ideas for features and programs to include in their own gardens
Pasquali, M. (2006). Loisaida: NYC Community Gardens.
Provides a historical and personal view of the Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens, a group of 60 community gardens on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, of which the first were established in the 1970s. You can find current information about the gardens at the LUNGS website: http://www.lungsnyc.org/
General Interest Books on Community and Small Space Gardening
Berger, S. (2005). Allotment Gardening. Devon, England: Green Books Ltd.
This is a basic guide to organic gardening in allotment gardens in England. Allotment gardens are the British counterpart to community gardens in the United States. These were developed in the mid 19th century in response to declining economic conditions in rural England and are similar in concept to the Depression relief gardens created in the United States in the 1930s. This book, rather than focusing on history, is a practical guide to planning, growing and harvesting small lot gardens.
Steven A. Frowine. (2010). Gardening for Dummies. [S.l.]: For Dummies, 2010.
Gardening for Dummies is a guide intended for those who are new to gardening. There are several books additional gardening books in the For Dummies series including Gardening Basics for Dummies, Organic Gardening for Dummies, and editions on specific plant types. These guidebooks employ humor to take some of the pressure off of learning new things, which at times can be frustrating.
Children’s Gardening Books
Pollak, B. (2004). Our community garden. Hillsboro, Or.: Beyond Words Pub.; Berkeley, Calif.: Distributed to the book trade by Publishers Group West.
This picture book illustrates a community in San Francisco working in a community garden. It introduces children to the concept of community garden in a fun and engaging way.
Ehlert, Lois. (1988). Planting a rainbow. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
This picture book describes a mother and child planning a vegetable and flower garden that will include plants from every color of the rainbow. With nutrition guidelines encouraging children to include foods representing more than three colors in each meal, it is a fun way to get children to look at the kinds of foods that exist in each color group.
Huff B. A. and P. Ziebel. (1990). Greening the City Streets: The Story of Community Gardens. New York: Clarion Books.
Written for older children, Greening the City Streets is a photo essay covering the history of the community gardening movement with a special focus on the Sixth Street and Avenue B Community Garden in Manhattan.
Films for the Humanities & Sciences (Firm), Films Media Group. & Exxon Mobil Corporation. (1986). The Garden and the grid. [Motion picture]. New York, N.Y. : Films Media Group.
This film, which is part of a series, Pride of Place – Building the American Dream, describes the challenges of creating green space within established city grids. A segment on Robert Moses describes his work at the NYC Parks Department and the development of the highway system in New York City.