Houston between Bowery & Second AvenueGARDEN HISTORY
This was the First Community Garden in New York City founded in 1973; it is located on the northeast corner of Bowery and Houston Streets in Manhattan.
During the 17th Century our site was then the corner of Bouwerie and North Street, the southern tip of a large farm owned by Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam. In the centuries following, this bouwerie (which is Dutch for farm) changed radically. It was in complete decline in the 1970's when many buildings were abandoned and torn down.
In 1973 a local resident named Liz Christy and a group of gardening activists known as the Green Guerillas were planting window boxes, vacant lots with seed bombs and tree pits in the area. They saw the large rubble-strewn lot as a potential garden and in December went to the City to find a way to gain official use of the land. Volunteers hauled the garbage and rubble out, spread donated topsoil, installed a fence and began planting.
On April 23, 1974, the City's office of Housing Preservation and Development approved the site for rental as the "Bowery Houston Community Farm and Garden" for $1 a month. Sixty raised beds were planted with vegetables, and then trees and herbaceous borders were added. In their second year this forerunner of today's urban community gardens won its first Mollie Parnis Dress Up Your Neighborhood Award. People from other neighborhoods in all five boroughs saw what could be done and wanted information on how to start similar projects.
Soon the Green Guerillas were running workshops and planting experimental plots to learn how a wide range of plants could be grown in hostile conditions. The garden became a site for many plant giveaways, where plants grown on-site or donated from nurseries, professional horticulturists and local gardeners were given to new gardens all over the City. In 1986 the Garden was dedicated Liz Christys Bowery-Houston Garden, in memory of its founder. In 1990, after years of uncertainty and a ground swell of support, the local development group, the Cooper Square Committee, pledged to preserve the garden in its entirety in its renovation plans for our neighborhood. The 2002 agreement between the City of New York and the NYS Attorney General calls for the preservation of the Liz Christy Garden.
There is a collection basket in the garden, proceeds help pay for tools and supplies; it is there during the official open hours, and the gardeners can accept donations in check form for the garden during open hours.Please support the garden. Your donations will help ensure the Liz Christy Garden remains a lush oasis for the surrounding community. Send a check made out to "Green Guerillas" and mail to: Green Guerillas, 307 7th Avenue, Room 1601, NY NY 10001. Please be sure to write "Liz Christy" on the memo line. and please be sure to indicate that your donation is for the Liz Christy Garden.
THE GARDEN TODAY
The Liz Christy Garden has a pond which is 2.5 feet deep. The fish and red-eared slider turtle communities live there year round. The garden also has a a wildflower habitat, beautiful wooden furniture, a grape arbor, a grove of weeping birch trees, fruit trees, a dawn redwood, vegetable gardens, berries, herbs and hundreds of varieties of flowering perennials. It is divided into individual areas, designed and tended by the garden members; general maintenance is shared. The beauties of this natural place can be enjoyed in every season, including winter during the weekly open hours. For additional information on the history of the garden or this website contact Donald Loggins. To volunteer at the garden contact one of the members in the garden during open hours
BECOMING A MEMBER
The way to become a member of LCBH is to Volunteer! Come to the garden during open hours and introduce yourself to the Gardener who is on duty. They will find you some work to do in the garden and enter your name and the number of hours you volunteered into a log book, kept in the shed. After you have spent 20 hours volunteering (and in the course of that time you will meet some of the other Gardeners), you will be eligible to receive a key to the garden. Afer 40 hours of volunteer work you will be considered a Gardener with voting rights ! One thing that really matters, is your desire to garden, and LCBH is a delightful place to learn and to develop your skills and love of gardening !
RULES OF CONDUCT
Sun bath, read, bird watch, stroll, relax, listen, smell and otherwise enjoy the garden. Dogs must be kept on the paths and under no circumstances may visitors pick, or cut flowers or plants in the garden, nor should visitors ever walk into any garden plot unless they have the individual gardeners permission to enter their garden area. Please do not add any additional fish or turtles to the pond as it can only safely support the current population.
Children with their parents are welcome to visit and learn how to garden, but wild play and running are not allowed. Feel free to ask the gardeners about plants, and to share your experiences and knowledge about plant gardening with them.
Please do not pick the flowers at our garden, leave them for everyone to enjoy. The garden may inspire you to have a flower you saw at our garden so just ask a gardener what it is and try to find it at the local Greenmarkets.
Photography is only permitted with hand-held equipment. Tripods or other equipment make the paths impassable and are not permitted.