FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I find a community garden?
How do I start a community garden, backyard or front yard?
What organizations can I contact for information about community gardeners?
How do I find a farmers market?
How do I volunteer?
How can I donate my garden Or market produce?
How can I test my soil?
Where can my garden find soil and compost?

 

How do I find a community garden?

To find a community garden, the best place to look is:  http://www.oasisnyc.net/gardens/cenycmapsearch.asp.  Once you have identified a community garden, go to the garden itself and look for a sign on the garden gates. Most gardens have a sign that identifies an organization or person to contact if you are interested in getting involved.

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  • Get permission of the landowner and make a clear agreement on the terms between the landowner and the group that will be gardening.  What rules will the garden abide by? What does the group have permission to do? For how long is the agreement valid? 
To find out who owns the land, find out the block and lot number of the space.  Property Shark (www.propertyshark.com) can help you. If you can not find your landowner on Property Shark, visit your borough’s Records Office.  For 50 cents you can buy a copy of the Block map, which gives your surveyor’s dimensions of the garden.
  • Contact your Community Board. Many Community Boards have Open Space/Land Use Committees that directly address their area's public space issues. Let them know what you are planning.
  • Get the community involved - Plan a meeting that brings together as many of your neighbors as possible to discuss the project.  Publicize your  meeting with posters, phone calls, and any local papers or newsletters.  Use multi-lingual announcements to get the word out to the whole community.  Together, make decisions about issues that are important for you, including the name of the garden.
  • When you have written permission to use the land, contact GreenThumb, a program of the Parks Department.  Listing your garden with GreenThumb will provide you with free materials such as soil, lumber, plants and garden tools, as well as workshops and other technical assistance to get your garden started. Being involved with GreenThumb can also give your garden legitimacy as a community resource and benefits such as permission to use hydrants.
  • If your garden is in the Bronx, contact the New York Botanical Garden's Bronx GreenUp to let them know about your project.  If your garden is in Brooklyn, contact the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's GreenBridge.  Linking in with these organizations will help you to access resources and other community gardens that help you grow!
  • Buy the City Farms Toolkit, which is a guide specifically geared towards community gardening, and useful for anyone looking to grow food in NYC (and beyond). The guide includes everything from planting calendars to soil care to season extension.
  • Attend a community workshop, led by NYC gardeners, on a variety of topics related to growing food, preserving food, and food justice http://www.justfood.org/cityfarms/workshops/ 

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In addition to Just Food, other organizations that give support to community gardeners include Green Thumb, CENYC, Bronx GreenUp (Bronx specific), and Green Guerillas (currently focused mostly in Bedstuy, but also citywide).  Brooklyn GreenBridge provides general support to community gardeners, backyard gardeners, tree stewards, and other people interested in greening Brooklyn.
 
To find a farmers market near you:

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To volunteer, find a community garden or farmers market in your neighborhood, contact them directly, and find out what help they need.
 
The Mayor’s office has a website specifically to match volunteers with host sites. Visit the website to search for community gardens looking for volunteers:  http://www.nycservice.org/
 
 
Gardeners throughout the city make donations to friends, family, and others in need. City Farms Donations are donations made by community gardens or City Farms markets to Emergency Food Providers and soup kitchens, food pantries, or other groups who are feeding hungry people.
 
To donate your garden or market produce, talk to your local food pantries, soup kitchens, religious groups, or other community organizations about donating produce.  Contact Just Food to learn more.
 
 
 
Soil tests can be done through Cornell University or University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Visit their websites athttp://www.umass.edu/plsoils/soiltest/ or http://cnal.cals.cornell.edu/
 
 
If you are a registered Green Thumb garden, you are eligible to receive soil and compost.  They give out soil and compost twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.  To receive soil and compost deliveries, one or more members of your garden must attend their workshop and then sign up to receive a delivery. If your garden is not a registered Green Thumb garden, find out how to become one.  For more information about soil deliveries or registering your garden, contact Green Thumb at 212-788-8070 or www.greenthumbnyc.org.
 
If you are not a garden registered with Green Thumb, look for your local nurseries or hardware stores.

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