Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Activist Liz Christy in what would become the Liz Christy Garden, 1974.

Activist Liz Christy in what would become the Liz Christy Garden, 1974.

In the East Village, community gardens began growing when neighborhood activists threw “seed-bombs” into empty, trash-strewn lots. Tomorrow, GVSHP teams up with Green Guerillas – the organization that  arose from these first green activists – for a walking tour of the neighborhood’s community gardens. Since the tour is sold-out, we thought we’d provide a history of these spaces here.

Empty lots, such as this one where the Liz Christy Garden now stands, attracted trash and crime.

Empty lots, such as this one where the Liz Christy Garden now stands, attracted trash and crime.

Today there are over 600 community gardens in New York City, though the first modern community garden was right here in the East Village. The Liz Christy Community Garden north of Houston between Bowery and Second Avenue was established by Christy and her band of Green Guerillas, who saw the untapped potential in the many vacant lots that had by that time become a trademark of 1970′s New York, when the City was demolishing many abandoned buildings that brought blight and illicit activities. The group set off a wave of similar projects across Manhattan. In response, the City created Operation Green Thumb to legalize and regulate community gardens.

GVSHP has spotlighted just a few of the many community gardens in the area here at Off the Grid. You can check out a post on the toy tower, which was a feature at the 6th and B Community Garden until 2008. You can also read about the 6th and B Community  Garden’s 2012 Village Award in this past post.

The 6th and B Garden offers shade and open space for the neighborhood.

The 6th and B Garden offers shade and open space for the neighborhood.

And for those of you who are interested in learning more about the East Village’s community gardens, take a look at the Green Guerillas website. GVSHP will also repeat this walking tour again this fall. Be sure to sign up for GVSHP’s email list to receive advance communications about all our lectures and tours.

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Sheryl
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Sheryl Woodruff was GVSHP's Senior Director of Operations until December 2014.

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