Start a Garden
For those interested in starting a garden project, please keep in mind that there are already more than 500 community gardens and over 300 school 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. This flow chart also outlines the details of each step in this process.
- 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 “identify” lot function. If you cannot find the landowner on this site, find a commercial real estate search engine or 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.
- Find a city owned appropriate site: Visit the Department of Citywide Administrative Services’ (DCAS) List of Owned and Leased Property to locate a potentially suitable lot. If you need assistance in navigating this online database, please call GreenThumb at (212) 602-5300.
- License Agreement. Once you identify a potentially suitable site, contact GreenThumb who will coordinate with the appropriate City Agency regarding a potential license agreement.
- Call Carlos Martinez at (212) 602-5329, or email him at email@example.com to set up a site visit and to discuss the application process.
- Contact your Community Board. Many Community Boards have Open Space/Land Use Committees that directly address their area’s public space issues. An official letter of support from the community board endorsing your project is very instrumental in gaining support from other agencies and organizations. Please visit the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit to Find Your Community Board.
- 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, you should make decisions about issues that are important for you and develop a comprehensive project proposal. This document should include the following:
- A mission or vision statement that lists benefits to the community
- List of community members interested in the project (at least 10 names, addresses, phone numbers, emails)
- Sketch or rendering of project
- List of partners/sponsors/endorsers (including churches, school, local business, city agencies, etc)
- If approved, please submit your Registration Form with a list of at least 10 members to the GreenThumb office. For more information on registering your group, please call our office at (212) 602-5300.
- Register your group with GreenThumb. Contact our office for information on registering your group by calling (212) 602-5300. You will receive our quarterly Program Guides that list 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!