Grant Avenue Community Garden Revitalization

Grant Avenue Community Garden Revitalization

Estados Unidos
Tipo de organização: 
Sem fins lucrativos / ONG/ Setor Civil
Orçamento: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Resumo do projeto
Pitch de Elevador (Explicação curta e direta)

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We want to continue to develop a socially innovative community-organizing model where we empower low income, urban community gardeners to redesign an underutilized community gardens around the community’s needs with the support of local non-profits and community partners. The Grant Avenue garden, 1 of 18 gardens permanently preserved and managed under the Bronx Land Trust, would be our 4th project

SOBRE O PROJETO

Problema: Este projeto busca solucionar qual problema?

Community gardens address the larger issue of environmental and social injustice. Most gardens including, Grant Avenue Garden, are in low income areas that are underserved by the existing park system. For many, especially seniors and children the garden is their only accessible open space. In addition to being safe places for children to play, a cool respite from the heat and noise of the city where neighbors can gather and socialize, they also are a source of fresh local produce, also rarity in the neighborhoods we serve.
Sobre Você
Organização:
Bronx Land Trust
Seção 1: Você
Nome

Erica

Sobrenome

Packard

Organização

Bronx Land Trust

País

, NY

Seção 2: Sua Organização
Nome da Organização

Bronx Land Trust

Telefone da organização

212 228 5482

Endereço da organização

c/o Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 E. 11th St. NY, NY 10003

País da organização

, NY

Sua ideia
Country and state your work focuses on

, NY

Website URL

http://bronxlandtrust.org (under construction)

INOVAÇÃO
What makes your idea unique?

In community gardens, unlike parks, it is not the land but the volunteer garden groups running the gardens who are the greatest asset. Recognizing this, BLT has developed an approach using proven community organizing strategies adapted to urban gardens to support, assist, and develop the leadership skills of our gardeners. We act as a catalyst. Under the direction of our community organizer, we have been able to revitalize poorly maintained gardens with limited neighborhood access into true community resources -- places of pride in their neighborhoods.

It is unique because it is not a top down approach: The majority of BLT’s board is comprised of the gardeners themselves, and the projects are executed in collaboration with neighborhood residents, local volunteers, service organizations, and businesses. We use a participatory design process that engages local residents to make decisions about their space and take long-term responsibility for garden operations and programming.
The urban low-income population is hardly at the table on discussions of the environment. This model is building a coalition of new community leaders who will be able to engage in a broader environmental discussion and lobby on behalf of low income, urban Americans.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impacto
What impact have you had?

As the project progresses, local residents develop from people who were once dissociated with the garden – and often uninvolved locally at all – to a fully functioning, democratic volunteer group that takes real ownership of the garden as a community space. It becomes a source of pride within the community – gardeners and non gardeners alike refer to it as our community garden. It becomes a neighborhood commons, all too rare in low income urban neighborhoods -- a place in the neighborhood where all residents have an opportunity to interact and cooperate in running the garden, a place where positive culturally and generational exchange can occur.

Actions

Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success? Organizing is a proven, results-driven empowerment strategy that we have specifically adapted to engage residents in community open space management. We have very successfully utilized this approach in 3 other spaces. As long as people have access to the space, and can physically be involved in the garden, we can harness that participation. Progress is impeded if physical or safety issues keeps people out for extended periods. But our entire approach is designed around broad engagement and we are flexible and responsive in our work plans to ensure success.

Results

Describe the expected results of these actions. For a “low functioning garden,” -- i.e., one that has not been properly maintained, has accumulated debris, and low membership – we measure success in terms of both the physical maintenance of the space and the neighborhood engagement in its operation. Once we have successfully reinvigorated a garden, it is free of debris; the beds are repaired and planted; paths and community areas are clean and safe. Perhaps more importantly, the garden group would have at least 10 active members; have a basic set of bylaws and rules to governing membership dues, and keys would be held by more than one leader. The garden will have regular open hours and hold events and activities in the garden. Decisions would be made democratically and garden members would begin attending and participating in land trust meetings and events.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

In the first year a garden would be identified as a struggling garden. Then under the supervision of the organizer the needs of the garden are determined and resources are brought to help interested residents to build a garden that reflects their vision and desire for the space.

2nd year the garden group emerges, meetings are held to give everyone an opportunity to participate and make decisions on running the garden; bylaws and rules are developed. The organizer also helps with membership development and conflict resolution.

3rd year the garden group would be managing the garden, events held and members would be participating in land trust committees and meetings. Although our organizers involvement with the garden is reduced, she would always have a relationship with the garden and be able to respond to an emergency. To help with monetary needs, she would work with them on fund raising through small grants and reaching out to elected officials.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

As organizing is a proven strategy, we feel that would always have some success. Depending upon the extent of the disassociation of the community to the garden and the reasons for that disinterest coupled with the extent of physical deterioration of the garden, the process may progress more slowly and may require more intense concentration by the organizer. A lack of funds would adversely affect our efforts.

How many people will your project serve annually?

101‐1.000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

SUSTENTABILIDADE
Em que estágio está seu projeto?

Implementado há menos de um ano

In what country?

, NY

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Sim

If yes, provide organization name.

Bronx Land Trust

How long has this organization been operating?

Menos de um ano

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Sim

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Não

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Sim

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

Não

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

The Bronx Land Trust is a small organization with 2 part time staff and modest budget that is responsible for managing 18 community gardens that are run entirely by volunteers. Taken as a whole, are responsible for more than 2½ acres of urban land but in difficult neighbors spread across the borough. From our first effort in Belmont, it was clear that we would need partners to succeed. Our approach relies upon volunteers to assist gardeners with initial cleanups and repairs beyond the scope of individual garden groups to offering educational gardening workshops to youth groups that help to plant, harvest and distribute produce to neighbors in need. We are also a partner as we provide opportunities for local organizations, especially those working with disabled clients, to serve their community by enabling them, often for the first time, to have contact with their natural environment by getting their hands dirty in a garden. Partners are the critical component to our work, particularly in our approach to helping struggling gardens. To show our appreciation for our partners, this February we held a partnership appreciation breakfast to which over 25 organizations were invited

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

We need to raise additional funds so that we can continue to pursue our organizing program so that we can address the needs in all 18 of our gardens. This will become increasingly important in the coming year as we anticipate that the gardens will be conveyed to the trust this year; at that point we are no longer just property mangers but will own 18 open space properties in one of the largest most densely populated cities in the world. We will need to develop an intern program under supervision by our organizer to work with the increasing number of youth and organizational groups that want to participate in our gardens. Reaching out to our garden communities is part of our mission, we want to insure that we can adequately handle all those who are interested. The third action is for technical support; we need to increase the capacity of the BLT board of directors as they assume the role of property owners; training for boards and gardeners alike in advocating for their gardens on local and state levels ; and we need help developing publicity and promotion materials including web site assistance to advance our mission.

A História
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation? (400 words or fewer) All the gardens of the Bronx Land Trust and the gardens of her sister trust, Manhattan Land Trust, some more than 20 years old at the time, were slated for sale by t he city in 1999 that would have lead to their certain demolition. The gardens were saved through purchase and then borough based land trusts were created by the gardeners to manage the gardens. The trusts were incorporated and each hired a director in 2005. A year later, in order serve the gardens and strengthen the garden groups, a shared community organizer was hired. She began her work at Belmont garden in Bronx, a garden which had basically been abandoned. She began by cleaning the garden with help from an environmental club of students from a neighborhood school. As they worked neighborhood folk came out to help and were interested in bringing back the space for their community; this in turn lead to more partners and support for this garden. This was the defining moment. Each trust and the city as a whole have struggling gardens. This was the first time we had had been able to clean up the space and so engage the residents that when the volunteers and dumpster left a garden group was in tack and ready to take on the challenges of a running a community garden.
The next garden project, Sherman Avenue was an extremely difficult situation. For several years, a family had taken over the garden monopolizing the space to the total exclusion of the neighborhood. With the support from the board, our organizer began as she had done at Belmont with volunteer cleanups. We were able to engage more partners, a necessity as the garden was in terrible disrepair. This garden, once an eyesore is now a thriving active garden with more than25 members, open every day and a source of true neighborhood pride.

Since the revitalization of Sherman we have had successful projects at Davidson Garden in the Bronx and Papo’s in Manhattan. Grant Avenue will be the next project. I think it important to mention that during this time Bronx and Manhattan were involved in a strategic plan. Heeding the recommendation from the plan to increase efficiency and reduce costs, we formed a joint venture. We now share an executive director as well as an organizer and one office. The two trusts jointly support our organizing approach to strengthen garden groups in both boroughs. BLT and MLT remain separate and independent non-profit organizations to whom the gardens in our boroughs will be conveyed this year. When that occurs, the very gardeners that first sought to save their gardens will now own them.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

We are very fortunate to have Catherine Wint as our community organizer. Not only is she a community gardener, she has a Master’s in Education and has extensive teaching experience ranging from an inner city public school serving children with behavioral difficulties to supervising interns in video and film editing to working at a K-12 arts education program. As a person of color and an immigrant, she is aware of the challenges faced by many of our gardeners and is respectful of their cultural and ethnic diversity and as well as their wide range of education and economic backgrounds. Through her patience, warmth and sense of humor, she easily engages gardeners.
When confronting with difficulties or conflicts she is able to listen and make suggestions that help resolve situations in a fair and equitable way. She is committed and dedicated to her job and is a pleasure to work with her.
Because of her many experiences, when she first went to Belmont Garden, she was able to recognize the need, reach out to community and enlist helpful partners. From this first effort, she developed a strategy to address struggling gardens that has made a wonderful difference in lives of so many in our gardening community.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Email from Changemakers

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

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