Community Gardening in New York City has a long and highly contested history. Community gardens can reclaim vacant or underused lands, and provide invaluable nutrition supplementation and open space to residents. CENYC, the Council on the Environment of New York City, is a non-profit organization focusing on publicly accessible and meaningful open spaces. The NYC Community Garden Mapping Project began in 2001. The free interface available on the New York City Open Accessible Space Information System Cooperative (OASIS) allows users to locate community gardens in their neighborhoods. The OASIS tool combines data from public and private sources to create a community-based interactive mapping system that residents can use to understand their neighborhood environment, and augment their stewardship of open spaces. OASIS’s GROW initiative partners with community groups to identify the needs of citizens and organizations in managing their environment, and increasing opportunities for open space enjoyment and community gardens. The CENYC project is being updated to reflect the changes that have occurred in community gardens and hopes to attract new gardeners to use and update the database. Beyond just locating community gardens, the project also provides layers for public transportation, vacant lots, public housing, land use, environmental stewardship zones, green markets, and schools (to name a few). CENYC wants the garden managers to be able to use the maps to provide information for gardeners on hours, accessibility, and membership. They also want to include information from the NYC Department of Finance that could facilitate new gardens and expansion on vacant lots whose owners are seldom present and difficult to locate. Finally, CENYC and OASIS hope to use the maps to allow residents to understand the open spaces in their communities. The spatial analysis tools available and being developed will empower communities to become more integrated into the planning process. Neighborhoods can also use the maps to envision what their communities would look like with new open spaces and gardens.
Added Value, the non-profit organization that operates the Red Hook Community Farm pictured above in the OASIS map
Carl Kunda, VERTICES intern