The East Village’s community gardens are a great place to meet locals and experience a side of New York generally not covered in the guidebooks.
How to get the most out of the The East Village Community Gardens
Do some background reading and preparation
See our story on ‘New York’s Secret Gardens – Urban Oases in the East Village’ if you haven’t already; read up on the history and politics of the gardens (here, and here); use Elissa Sampson’s tours and maps; and locate the gardens on the East Village Parks Conservancy website.
Visit our favourite gardens
6th & Ave B Garden; La Plaza Cultural on 9th Street & Avenue C; 9th Street Community Garden on 9th Street & Avenue C; 6BC Botanical Garden on 6th Street, between Avenues B & C; and the sweet Creative Little Garden on 530 E. 6th Street, between Avenues A & B.
Visitors are welcome
Visitors are welcome when the garden gates are open, on weekends or during specified times to take a stroll, read a book, have a picnic, sun bathe, or enjoy a snooze. Each garden has different rules and opening hours so check the garden websites above or the signs on the gates.
Ask, but don’t touch
If you want to know the name of a plant or want gardening tips, ask one of the friendly gardeners, but don’t pick flowers, take clippings, fruit or vegetables, or tend a garden without asking.
There are frequent events in the gardens
Many gardens, such as 6th & B Garden host activities and events — storytelling for kids, music and dance lessons, concerts, plays, poetry nights, gardening lessons, cooking classes, yoga, and so on. Check garden websites or notice boards at entrances. Most are free, but donations are always welcome.
If you’ve got a green thumb and are yearning to get your hands dirty, many gardens welcome volunteers. Introduce yourself to a gardener and they’ll let you know if there’s something to do.
Become a Member
Most gardens have memberships for local residents — you generally need to volunteer for a certain number of hours before you can become a member, pay your fee, and get a key.
You can Donate
Members’ fees pay for garden tools, soil, fertilizer, maintenance etc. Additional donations are welcome from visitors, so if you’ve enjoyed a garden, look for the donation box, generally near the entrance.
Check out the Sixth Street Community Centre
Drop into the Sixth Street Community Centre to find out about their organic farm, the Seeds to Supper program, youth training activities, and their community-supported agriculture projects – or just take a yoga class. The people there are happy to share their experiences.
Eat the locally grown produce
Enjoy a multi-course organic meal made from fresh farm produce at the Organic Soul Café at the Sixth Street Community Centre on Tuesdays 7.30-9.30pm. Volunteers are welcome in the kitchen! It’s a great way to meet locals and give something back.
New York’s community gardens are once again under threat of bulldozers and development; see our previous story for more information and how you can help.