Contribution to the Gardening-Conference 2000: "Perspectives of Small-Scale Farming in urban and rural areas
- about the social and ecological necessity of gardens and informal agriculture" from 21. - 25. July 2000 in Berlin
Infos: Work group "Small-scale farming and Gardens in urban and rural Areas", C/O Free University of Berlin, Institute of Sociology, Elisabeth Meyer-Renschhausen, Bülowstr. 74, D-10783 Berlin, Tel.:+49 (0)30 -261 22 87 ,

Edie Stone
Director of Community Outreach,
New York City Department of Parks GreenThumb Program
Board Member American Community Gardening Association

“Community Gardening in New York City Becomes a Political Movement”

Community gardens developed in New York City as a response to the desperate conditions in neighborhoods resulting from the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and early 1980s.  A decline in municipal services, landlord abandonment and rampant crime produced hundreds of vacant lots and burned out buildings in lower income areas as residents with the means fled to the suburbs.  In many neighborhoods, however, residents banded together to fight the decay, renovating abandoned buildings and clearing and planting community gardens in the vacant lots.

Many of these gardens continue to flourish in today’s millennial boom times, however increasing land values and a resurgence of interest in urban living have created incredible development pressures throughout New York City.  Market pressures and a government philosophy focused on the privatization of lands once owned by the City of New York have caused a crisis in the gardening community.

This paper will examine the political problems facing New York City community gardens and the responses of grassroots gardeners groups and non-profit organizations to current threats against garden survival.  Using the experience of New York City as a model, this paper will further attempt to point out possible dangers facing community gardens in other regions and effective strategies to ensure the sustainability of urban gardening movements worldwide.

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Stand: 20.9.2002