The many community gardens of New York City were developed as the City tore down abandoned buildings in some of the worst neighborhoods and the community worked together to reclaim these blighted spaces. While the history of the 6th Street and Avenue B Garden closely follows this narrative, the current efforts of the garden to welcome the larger community through summer programs, joint programs with local school children, and open weekend hours has truly made this garden a vital part of the neighborhood. The garden will be presented with a 2012 Village Award at GVSHP’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 7th in recognition of its contributions to the neighborhood.
The 6th Street and Avenue B Garden was developed beginning in 1982, when a committee of the 6th Street A-B Block Association petitioned the City’s Operation Green Thumb for a lease to turn six empty lots into a community garden. With a year-long lease secured, community members began to clear the 17,000 square foot space of garbage and create 4 x 8 plots. Like many community gardens, they had to continually fight to keep the space from development. Developers twice petitioned the city for the lots, once for a parking lot, and in 1985, for high end housing that passed as far as the community board before garden activists threw open the doors of the garden and won the community to their side.
Today, the garden hosts approximately 75 public events during the year, from Shakespeare readings to Friday night movies. The garden also welcomes the community by opening to the general public during the summer and fall season during weekends. In addition, the garden has developed relationships with three local preschools to welcome the children to the garden, and has developed an environmental curriculum to teach the children gardening and nature skills. All these programs are conceived of and executed by the gardens members. Artists play a large role in the garden’s membership, and some of the garden’s features (current and past) speak to those talents. Check out this Off the Grid post on the garden’s former toy tower.
For its role in greening the East Village and opening its doors to the community for the past 30 years, a Village Award will be presented to the 6th and B Garden. We hope to see you at GVSHP’s 2012 Annual Meeting as we honor the garden and 7 other awardees who are being honored for their contributions to the Village. Stay-tuned to Off the Grid for upcoming posts on our other 2012 Village awardees.