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Helping Community Gardens Thrive

Community Garden
Photo by Avery Wham, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land.

In 1998, most residents thought their beloved garden at 279 Bainbridge Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant was doomed when the City put many community gardens up for sale, including theirs. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) stepped in. In 1999, it hammered out a deal with the City to buy 63 community gardens.

The Central Bainbridge Community Garden saw immediate results: TPL added an adjacent empty lot to the garden, nearly doubling its size; built a new toolshed and gazebo; put up a new fence; and trained the residents to manage and maintain the garden.

With grants from The Trust, it also began the long process of establishing three land trusts to oversee and support the 63 gardens.

Over the last six years, the three land trusts have been established and organized, money has been raised to support their operations, and staff and board have been trained in management and fundraising. A 2005 grant from The Trust helped the land trusts become self-sufficient and prepare to take ownership of the community gardens.

The Brooklyn/Queens Land Trust is the nonprofit that took the title to 34 gardens in the two boroughs in 2006, including the Central Bainbridge Community Garden. It, along with land trusts in Manhattan and the Bronx, constitutes the largest network of urban land trusts in the country. And while it owns the title to the land, its main purpose is to support the grassroots groups that manage them through training and funding — groups like the one that manages 279 Bainbridge Street.

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.