Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2018

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


The importance of community gardens in New York City is twofold: first as a portal to a real natural aesthetic in an otherwise brick and concrete urban jungle, and second as a sustainable alternative to agribusinesses that are dominant in the contemporary private sector. This paper addresses the issue of the diminishing community garden support in NYC, especially in middle and lower-income areas. The introduction is a personal anecdote about the poor quality of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) gardens, and the work being done behind the scenes to improve them. Chapter one provides data showing the scope and cost of the community garden programs in NYC. Chapter two discusses the history of agriculture in NYC and the greater New York area, and gives background to the current agricultural and gardening programs in NYC. Chapter three discusses the various advantages resulting from community gardens, including both physical and mental health benefits, as well as the economic benefits of community gardening. Chapter four examines the politics of the gardens through the case study of NYHCA’s declining support for community gardens, and the factors influencing residents’ decisions between advancing the costs for their own housing development beautification projects or abandoning their gardens altogether. Chapter five concludes with recommendations on how best to implement and expand NYC’s garden programs.