Productive Urban Landscapes

Research and practice around the CPUL design concept

Map of New York indicating each community garden. (Source: Greenthumb, 2022)

Greenthumb, USA

Greenthumb is operated by the New York City Parks Department. It is the country’s largest urban gardening program, providing support to over 600 community gardens around New York City. There are over 20 000 volunteers who manage the gardens. Greenthumb provides programming, workshops and material support to these volunteers.

Vegetable beds spread out, apartment buildings can be seen in the background. (Source: Phillip Kester, 2022)

Community gardens and farms are managed by over 20,000 volunteers across the city. (Source: Phillip Kester, 2022)

The majority of Greenthumb gardens are former vacant lots which have been transformed into gardens, spaces for relaxation and socialising, and some are fully fledged farms. During the financial crisis of the 70’s many building were abandoned and fell into disrepair, and the city eventually claimed them. Buildings were demolished or otherwise destroyed and the sites of these became the derelict lots of land that then came under the management of the New York City Parks Department. The department aided community members in the transformation of these into productive, positive hubs for residents.

Greenthumb delivers free seeds, plants, tools and soil to the gardens, and aids when gardens need upgrades or expansions. They continue to open up new gardens every year, even opening up 3 in 2021 during the pandemic.

Lots of people gather in a community garden within the city. (Source: Nathan Thompson/Bklyner, 2022)

By opening these spaces to the community to transform, Greenthumb has been part of enhancing the biodiversity, air and wellbeing of the residents in NYC. (Source: Nathan Thompson/Bklyner, 2022)

Greenthumb also partners with GrowNYC and the Department of Education’s Office of School Food to help schools develop their own gardens and encourage students to become involved in the urban gardening community.  So far the program, named GrowNYC School Gardens has aided in the development of over 800 school gardens around New York. As well as the creation of gardens in schools, this program also educates students about food systems and cooking. Greenthumb also offers corporations, schools and other community groups the opportunity to attend volunteer days under their program Help a Garden Grow.

By opening these spaces up for residents to utilise and enhance, the New York City Parks Department has created the opportunity for New York to have improved ‘air quality, bio–diversity, and the well–being of residents.’

Rows of crops take up an open plot in New York City. (Source: NYC Parks Greenthumb, 2022)

The plots have been transformed into community gardens, farms and social spaces. (Source: NYC Parks Greenthumb, 2022)


For further information see the project’s own website.

For information on GrowNYC School Gardens see here.

Image: Greenthumb supports over 550 community gardens within the city of New York. (Source: NYC Parks Greenthumb, 2022)


Back to previous page Related design projects

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
* edible city networks* urban agricultureUSA

Jasmine Cook • 2nd September 2017

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *