By Devon Johnson, Contributing Writer
Devon Johnson is a new contributing writer for Urban Gardens NYC. Devon grew up in Brooklyn in NYCHA’s Marcy Development, and is one of our New York based writers. Read his introductory post here.
Started in 1978, in NYC’s East Village, GreenThumb is a division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation dedicated to supporting community gardens, including school gardens. It remains the nation’s largest urban gardening program to date, assisting over 600 gardens and nearly 20,000 garden members throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
GreenThumb was initiated in response to the city’s financial crisis of the 1970s, which resulted in the abandonment of public and private land. The majority of GreenThumb gardens were derelict vacant lots renovated by volunteers.
This initiative doesn’t just gives load of compost (aka dirt) it’s one of the few that can also provide the shovels to spread it with– along with providing other valuable support for school gardens like technical assistance and materials such as lumber, shovels, and- of course- compost.
Some are green spaces meant for relaxation and as a community meeting space, others are full–fledged farms, basically this multipurpose space exists for all types of reasons. The volunteer gardeners are the backbone of our program and are of diverse ages and backgrounds.
If your gardening initiative meets GreenThumb’s eligibility requirements, you may be able to receive technical assistance, materials, and educational workshops provided by GreenThumb. As well as grants information on how to apply for a grant.
Check out the fabulous video “It’s My Park: Community Gardens” with testimonial’s of what community gardening means to some of my native New Yorkers