Community gardens beautify city blocks. They provide needed green space in areas where public parks are scarce. Community gardeners grow nutritious fresh foods for their families, neighbors and nearby emergency food sites. Gardens and urban farms are centers of learning where children discover the natural world and find out where food comes from. Gardens are safe spaces for exercise in communities with poor access to physical activity outlets. These green spaces deliver environmental benefits such as reduced city heat, decreased storm water run-off, safer soil, and natural habitat for birds. And in gardens, residents of all ages from diverse backgrounds find common ground.
State law defines community gardens as “public or private lands upon which citizens of the state have the opportunity to garden on lands which they do not individually own.” There are well over 1,000 registered or permitted community gardens in New York’s cities and many more cases where residents have rescued derelict private or public lots in an effort to build more livable neighborhoods.