How Radical Gardens Grow

Kristy Zhen Jul 22, 2011

CREDIT: Lucy ValkuryCommunity gardens offer far more than just a plot of land to grow vegetables — they provide people throughout the city with space to learn about the environment and connect with other New Yorkers. Each community garden is defined by the life surrounding it, says Aresh Javadi, co-founder of More Gardens!, a group that promotes the preservation and development of community gardens in New York City. Javadi told The Indypendent about 13 unique community gardens, detailed below.

Padres Plaza Success Garden
E. 139 St. and St. Ann’s Ave., Bronx
Mon.-Sun., 2-6 p.m.
(718) 877-7113 •
This community garden provides a safe haven for children to connect to the natural environment. They offer a four-week summer camp for children ages 8 to 12 and work with local high schoolers throughout the year to protect street trees.

Garden of Happiness
2156-2160 Prospect Ave, Bronx
Mon. – Fri., 12-6 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-dusk
Since its creation in 1988, this space has increased the surrounding community’s awareness of politics, food and health. “It was more than just beautification and growing, it was about the social and economic well-being of the community as a whole,” says Karen Washington, who is also President of New York City Community Garden Coalition, says about the garden’s creation. The Garden of Happiness will host its annual block party on August 27.

La Plaza Cultural
E. 9th St. and Avenue C
Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m-7 p.m.
(917) 805-3857 •
While this 35-year-old community garden is known best for supporting the arts — from displaying artwork to regularly staging theatrical performances — it really has something for everyone. Some of their free services include permaculture workshops, storytelling for children and cultural events such as Persian fire-jumping.

Taqwa Community Farm
90 W. 164th St., Bronx
Mon., Wed. and Fri., 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
(347) 934-7649
Since its founding in 1993, this community garden has transformed from a small plot of land into a farm that spans almost an entire acre. In addition to fruit trees and medicinal plants, the farm also raises bees, who produced 45 pounds of honey last year.

Hattie Carthan Community Garden
Lafayette Ave. and Marcy Ave., Brooklyn
Mon.-Sun., 12-6 p.m.
(718) 638-3566 •
Although their community farmers market is only in its third season, this garden is well known as a place to explore fresh food options. This summer it will collaborate with Playstreets NYC to hold drumming, dance and cooking workshops. The market takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., starting July 9 until the end of November.

La Finca del Sur
E. 138th St. and Grand Concourse, Bronx
Fri. 5-8:45 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
(646) 725-2162 •
The Bronx’s first urban farm run entirely by women of color, this three-acre farm empowers women through creating “a safe, alternative reality to our patriarchal world,” says member Nancy Ortiz.

UCC Youth Farm of East New York Farms Project
613 New Lots Ave., Brooklyn
Fri., 1-4 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
(718) 649-7979 •
This neighborhood farm was originally created to educate youth about green space and fresh food. Through its Youth Internship program, which educates youth ages 13 to 18 about food justice, teens learn how to run a farm and help with the Saturday farmers’ market throughout the year.

Brook Park
E. 141 st St. and Brook Ave., Bronx
Mon.-Sun., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
(646) 648-4362 •
In addition to films, concerts and cultural events, this park also offers waterfront outreach programs that allow residents to canoe on the Bronx Kill (a waterway that connects the Harlem River to the East River) and empowers members of the community to become advocates for public space.

Children’s Magical Garden
Staton St. and Norfolk St.
Mon.-Fri., 4 p.m.-dusk; Sat., 4 p.m.-dusk; Sun., 2 p.m.-dusk
(212) 505-3026
This kid-friendly space hosts kids events to mark the seasons and helps children learn about gardening through making their own food. For example, their pizza garden grows tomatoes, basil and other ingredients, that the children later use to make pizza.

Le Petit Versailles
346 E. Houston St.
Thurs.-Sun., 2 p.m.-7 p.m.
(212) 529-8819 •
When the garden was created by Allied Productions, two of the founders were also directors of ABC No Rio, which explains why this space has a history of showcasing the arts. Music, theatrical performances and readings are among a few of the full schedule of events at this LGBT-friendly hub.

El Jardin del Paraiso
E. 4th and 5th St. between Ave. C and D
Open Tues.-Sun., 11 a.m.-sundown
(917) 684-1135
East villagers benefit from this community garden’s workshops, which vary from bokashi composting to puppet-making. Schools also take advantage of the community garden as an educational and recreational space.

El Gallo Garden
152 E. 118th St.
Mon.-Sun.,10 a.m.-7 p.m.
(347) 640-7655
Fruit trees, flowers and vines decorate this 30-year-old community garden to be create a serene place open for social gatherings and celebrations.

Rincon Criollo Cultural Center
E. 157 St. and Brook Ave., Bronx
Mon.-Sun., 2 p.m.-late night
(347) 839-0520 •
Founded in 1987, this popular spot is known as an historic center for the celebration of Bomba and Plena, traditional music of the Puerto Rican working class. The center regularly holds perfomances and hosts cookouts on major holidays.

To find the community garden that is closest to you, visit For information on how to protect community gardens and make them permanent public spaces, visit

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