Tomorrow we’re teaming up with Green Guerillas and the Manhattan Land Trust to host a self-guided walking tour of the East Village’s varied and remarkable community gardens. Today there are over 600 of these 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 allegedly housed illicit activities.
By planting seed bombs and cultivating the lot, 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.
In the early 1980s, the City planned to auction off six newly-vacant lots at the corner of 6th St and Avenue B. Community members advocated instead to use the land as a garden, and applied to the Green Thumb Program for a permit. Despite mounting pressure from developers, the City agreed that the garden was the best option and thus another East Village garden was born. Since its founding, the 6th and B Community Garden has been distinguished by its members’ hands-on contributions in arts, education, and entertainment.
These two community gardens, along with Albert’s Garden, adjacent to the Marble Cemetery on Bond Street, provide a quite respite from the often tumultuous urban landscape. If you’re unable to join us on the tour this weekend, make sure to check out our Flickr page later next week for photos from the event! Or check out our programs page for information on upcoming tours.