||Operation Renovo: Community
Gardens Creation - NYC
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Listed By Ecosystem
Bayside Acacia Cemetery
Central Park's North End
East River Oyster Beds
Fresh Creek Marshland
Harlem River Yards
Inwood Marsh & Nature Center
Manhattan Marsh Re-creation
Manhattan Maritime Holly Forest
Northern Manhattan Forests
Operation Renovo Gardens
Time Capsule NYC
West Harlem Marshlands
Ecology is the study of the relationships between organisms and the environment they inhabit. Traditionally, when we talk about restoration ecology, we usually refer to the interactions between non-human species and their surroundings. However with humans having altered one-third to one-half of the planet’s land surfaces (Williamson 2002) it is necessary to think about the affect they have on the natural world, and currently, more than ever, to begin to examine the role the natural world plays in lives of humans. Specifically in urban areas such as New York City, with a population of about 8 million people confined to a mere 310 square miles (nyc.gov 2006), we are forced to consider a new ecological paradigm where, as Mary Parlange says in her paper The City As Ecosystem, a human is just another organism within the ecosystem. (1998)
Scattered throughout the five boroughs of
It is our objective to teach and understand the ecological theory needed to support neighborhood revitalization in urban settings in order to transform multiple vacant lots into functional urban ecosystems. We also hope to promote community participation by way of volunteer recruitment, educational programming, and recreational opportunities. The development of a revitalization Consortium with local, grassroots and eco-organizations will enable Renovo to effectively carry out its mission by providing reciprocated services.
Members of the Renovo consortium
NYRP was established in 1995 by actress/singer Bette Midler. NYRP acts as a private “parks department” for small neighborhood gardens and parks in underprivileged communities. Further, they invest in the communities they serve by providing funding through its New York Garden Trust, on-going maintenance, and educational programming. They seek to create strong and vital communities. (nyrp.org 2006)
Was created in 1993 by the New York
Sanitation. They provide compost outreach and education to City
businesses. They provide free or minimally priced bins, worms, and
training and educational materials. Additionally, the
Green Thumb NYC
Was established in 1978 and provides materials and technical support for neighborhood volunteers who manage community gardens as active and attractive community resources. Green Thumb also serves communities primarily through its warehouse distribution, technical support, and educational workshops. (greenthumbnyc.com 2006)
Was started in 1973 by artist Liz Christy. The Green Guerillas offer a number of services which include helping many community gardens get the plants and materials they needs to improve their sites by hosting annual plant and materials giveaways. Also they Help gardeners preserve their garden spaces and help garden leaders sustain strong neighborhood coalitions. They also aim to engage young people as true partners in community gardens. They encourage community garden groups to grow food and distribute it in their neighborhoods. And finally they try to sustain a strong network of community garden supporters. (greenguerillas.org 2006)
Established in 1999, the Farmers' Market
Renovo stands for ‘renewal’ in Latin. Not only meant to refer to environmental renewal but also for the renewal of a more cohesive community structure.
A history of community gardens
Though the reasoning for creating urban
gardens has evolved
over time, the concept itself is not new. In war and other stressful
During World War
II the government
decided that all available land would be transformed into “victory
Yet after the war, because food rationing wasn’t necessary due to the
advancements in the food industry-such as the development and
frozen and foods- these gardens were no longer needed. In the 1970’s
groups, such as the green guerillas, a member of the Renovo consortium
action and began taking over and beautifying abandoned lots. According to the historian Sarah Ferguson,
the community gardens that have arisen from this point were not the
government support but because of is neglect. (Williamson 2002) During
century economic crisis,
Ecological theory - a foundation for action
The success of the Renovo project depends on the establishment of a solid restoration plan that is based not only on social needs but on theory as well. When embarking on an urban restoration project, we must first consider the human impacts. With An increasing understanding of how humans and other factors impact nature, we can develop an effective urban restoration strategy. By examining the ecological theory pertinent to urban community gardening we can also create a useful maintenance plan. The primary ecological issues that require the most attention are the abiotic factors and species establishment. Also dealing with the physiological changes that occur in the environment is important.
The abiotic factors are the first issues to consider even before choosing a site for a community garden. Since we are creating vegetable gardens the fist consideration is Sunlight. Most garden vegetables require at least six to eight hours of sun exposure. (plantanswers.tmau.edu 2006) Due to the many adjacent multilevel buildings that exist in urban centers, sites for vegetable gardens will have to be chosen with this in mind.
Because we are establishing a more natural ecosystem on a patch of land that formally did not exist, we have to consider the biogeochemical effects of the surrounding environment. With so many vacant lots that were formally wastelands for urban environmental toxins such as oil and other industrial remnants, there is a high plausibility of these contaminates being absorbed into the substrate below. (Ding 2005) (Menninger 2006) Even after revitalization, there is a change that the chemicals can affect the newly planted vegetation. Some plants, though they may be considered native, will have a difficult time growing in this environment because they may be tolerant to different stressors that are not present. (Ehleriner 2006) This could create limits on survival and adaptation and could affect the small communities that may inhabit the gardens such as invertebrates, birds and other small mammals. So it is important to ensure that the soil is of good quality. However this is challenging in urban settings. Doing a soil analysis will help the Renovo team understand the characteristics of the soil at a potential site. Generally they will look at soil texture, compaction, drainage, the depth of the topsoil, nutrient levels, pH levels, and the presence of heavy metals or other toxins. Generally poor soil can be improved by adding compost, and tilling Soil texture aids in determination of the water and nutrient carrying capacity. The addition of compost will generally improve the soils texture. (Emerson 1990)
A key factor to consider when planning urban gardens is access to water. Relying on natural weather patterns to produce enough precipitation is an unrealistic goal for community gardens. The NYRP has a program that in addition to an irrigation system, they “harvest” rain water. Rainwater harvesting— which is an old technique of stocking up on rainwater for use later on— is a great solution if water access is not readily available. The process is that rainwater is captured from the rooftops of neighboring buildings, carried to gardens through plastic pipes, and collected in tightly sealed barrels or large cisterns. this nonpotable, chlorine-free water is available to gardeners to nourish healthy vegetable and flower beds throughout the growing season.
All of these Abiotic factors can contribute
successful species become established in a garden ecosystem. The landscape in the city is inherently
patchiness means that there could be a concrete parking lot in contact
beautiful tree field park. Thus, we can consider all the green spaces
In an urban garden it is not the goal to establish a tremendous amount of wildlife, in fact we want to keep them as pest free as possible. However there are certain insects, and other species that are beneficial to community gardens in that they help with pollination and reducing toxic pesticide levels in gardens. So, unlike other restoration projects that want to promote species diversity, the urban gardener wants to prevent an increase in wildlife species to protect crops and other plant life. See appendix B for an interesting introduction to organic pest management.
Vision - Goals and Initiatives
When creating community gardens, we have to consider the needs of, and benefits to the local community. Directly, people are able to enjoy an ascetically pleasing setting; a place of tranquility amidst the chaos of the city. There is also an improvement to the physical environment. Additionally, by introducing a variety of trees, plants, flowers, and shrubs, the surrounding air quality will also be enhanced. (Williamson 2002)
Operation Renovo is a community based project that, in addition to the employment of a few trained specialists, will enlist the help of members of the local community thorough volunteering and stewardship. Because we aim to create gardens in multiple locations, a recruitment team will be set up and sent around to various areas with vacant lots in need of restoration. These recruitment fairs will offer not only information about Renovo but also information about sustainable living will be provided as well. There will also be fun activities and food booths that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Since The New York Farmers Market Federation is part of the Renovo Consortium, we will also have representatives selling local, organically gown produce.
Once we have established a good volunteer base, planning meetings will be held to begin discussing the plan for a particular garden. There are many types of gardens and gear needed to maintain the gardens. It is our goal to minimize start up costs by seeking whole or partial donations for various resources. Thus several initiatives will be instituted that will help to collect these valuable supplies. There are also prospective initiatives that will be instituted once the gardens are successfully running and will hopefully further enhance community energy and vitality:
The planning committee members will go around to local schools, community centers, old-aged homes, and churches to request the creation of ground construction and craft projects that will be incorporated into their local community garden. Such as a shed furniture, statuary, handmade mosaic tiles to be in-laid into pathways,and murals for possible surrounding walls. It will be encouraged to use reclaimed, recycled, or natural sustainable materials for these projects.
In addition to the on site composting bins, it is our hope to institute a community composting program that will not only add to the compost material available but will also minimize the amount of food waste and certain paper waste that would normally go to landfills. All of the bins, worms, and educational material will be provided by composting NYC.
Local organic food market initiative
Once the individual gardens are in operation, it is the Renovo goal to set up seasonal food markets that will sell fresh organic produce to the local community. %100 percent of the profits will go toward annual upkeep costs of the area garden and Market/Job training stipends.
Market/Job training initiative
Eventually, Renovo wants to offer community gardens as learning environments, for job training and other educational purposes such as leadership training, sustainable urban agriculture/small farm business internship programs, and science internships. Stipends may be offered from the proceeds of the organic farmers markets.
Timeline for Garden Planning
Timeline for Garden construction
1. Prepare and develop--once we have established a good degree of community involvement we will begin demolishing the respective sites. There are plans for debris removal, the old concrete and asphalt will be recycled by a process known as Full Depth Reclamation (FDR), which pulverizes and mixes old material with cement and water and creates a new strong base for future asphalt and concrete surfaces (cement.org 2006).
2. Soil samples will be collected a total of 3 times (ACGA (starting in the fall), at the beginning, middle, and end of construction to ensure soil is suitable for planting food, and other desirable plants and trees. Testing for nutrients and heavy metals (Testing for nutrients and heavy metals -pH, salt, nitrates, ammonium, calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese) (Helmrecht 2006)
3. Due to a close relationship with Composting New York City (CNYC) Renovo will ship in soil and composting material provided by CNYC. Also there are a certain number of composting bins around the city that are reserved exclusively for Renovo parks. This material will help in the maintenance of the parks by adding this nutrient rich substrate; in return Renovo will actively attempt to increase the clientele of CNYC.
4. If planning on a vegetable garden, plant early to
Ensure harvest time will be in the early summer late fall.
5. Landscapers will then come in and create aesthetically interesting and functional parks. With native tree, shrub, grass, and flower species.
6. We hope to get local schools and community centers to join in the fun by contributing student made projects such as park benches and art sculptures - see initiatives. (all made out of recycled, natural, and sustainable materials. a shed will also be necessary to house all the workers tools and equipment.
7. Continual maintained of garden. will be carried out by community members and with help from the New York Restoration Project.
The average community garden start-up cost
$1000-$4000. However due to so many donations and drive initiatives,
the supplies for Renovo gardens are expected to be donated (Emerson
project does not focus on any one particular garden site. Thus, the
an estimated value, and is based on a plot approximately about 3000
in size. This value was derived from taking an average of the square
a random sampling of community gardens around
community garden on
Creating a community garden – staff positions
Aside from the vast and very integral volunteer garden staff that will help in clearing, creating and continually managing the urban garden sites, there are also a few key job positions that will be established to ensure the sites will run effectively and efficiently.
Job Description – one per garden site. The steward is responsible for Understand roles, responsibilities, expectations of Renovo, community gardeners, and Stewards. Have a basic knowledge of gardening practices, and operations. Determines planting, sowing, harvesting schedules. Helps to maintain and clean up of site, and makes basic repairs around the garden. The director acts as a liaison between the gardeners and the garden coordinator and helps resolve any minor conflicts that may arise on site. Responsible for monitoring site for possible invasive species, and helping to maintain non beneficial insects in a natural, healthy way. Keep up moral among gardeners so that they have a positive experience. Coordinated farmers markets seasonally with the New youk federation of Farmers Markets
Job description – In charge of a multiple garden sites. They will be responsible for Coordinating and Training Garden Steward, organizing Community Garden Committee meetings, recruiting volunteer seasonal gardeners, when plots are available and assigns garden plots. The Coordinator Plans and conducts garden orientations for community gardeners, work projects, and general meetings, determines roles, responsibilities, expectations of garden organization and community gardeners, establishes community goals and attempts to resolve any conflict that may arise. It is important that the coordinator understand how the water and compost systems work, as well as other policies and enforcement procedures. They also attempt to maintain good community relations, active public outreach, community contact list (community councils, churches, schools, businesses, neighbors, non-profits, government, staff, etc.) (Emerson 1990)
Other Key Players
· Full Depth Reclamation (FDR) staff – can clear a site in 1-7 days
· Consortium educators – providing basic garden management classes, and professional development courses, along with informative literature.
· Compost maintenance/pick up crew – pick up compost bins that have been distributed throughout the neighborhood by compost NYC. Makes sure new clean bins are provided and decomposers are available.
· Water irrigation system installer - can take anywhere from 3-8 days for instillation.
· Students-doing soil, and biodiversity studies.
· Volunteers – the hands that keep Renovo running!! The people that bring warmth, joy, and community to the gardens.
Ultimately we hope to establish multiple
local communities and promote good will, and a vital community to care
T. J. "Reaping on the Margins: A Century of Community Gardening in
E. L. (2005). "Brownfield Remediation for Urban Health: A Systematic
Review and Case Assessment of
Dobson, A. P., A. D. Bradshaw, et al. (1997). "Hopes for the Future: Restoration Ecology and Conservation Biology." Science 277(5325): 515-522.
J. R., Sandquist,D.R.
constraints on plant responses in a restoration setting. Foundations
Restoration Ecology. D. e. a. Falk. Washington,
B. et. al.(2005)
Neglected Parcels to
Farmer’s Market Federation of New York. http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/ accessed online Dec. 2006.
A. (1997 (orginally 1947). The Diary of
(the definitive edition).
Depth Reclamation” (2006) accessed online
Gallagher, R. and B. Carpenter (1997). "Human-Dominated Ecosystems." Science 277(5325): 485-.
Goldstein, L. J. (1997). ""philadelpha's Community Garden History." City Farmer(www.cityfarmer.org).
Green Guerillas. http://www.greenguerillas.org/info.asp. Accessed online November 2006
Head, L. and P. Muir (2006). "Edges of connection: reconceptualising the human role in urban biogeography." Australian Geographer 37(1): 87-101.
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Implications of population dynamic and metapopulation theory for
of Restoration Ecology. D. e. a. Falk. Washington,
H.L. Palmer, M.A. (2006). Restoring ecological communities: from theory
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Niering, W. A. (1997). "Human-dominated ecosystems and the role of restoration ecology." Restoration Ecology 5(4): 273-274.
NYC.gov (2006). Patrol services Bureau.
Parlange, M. (1998). "The city as ecosystem." Bioscience 48(8): 581-585.
Plant answers. “Growing a fall gadern” http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/
fallgarden/fallgrowing.html. Accessed online Dec 2006.
The Garden group. (1997) “a Conceptual drawing of a garden site.”http://www.eslarp.uiuc.edu/la/LA341-F97/projects/garden/concept.htmAccessed online dec. 2006.
Webb, J. K. and R. Shine (2000). "Paving the way for habitat restoration: can artificial rocks restore degraded habitats of endangered reptiles?" Biological Conservation 92(1): 93-99.
Wikipedia (2006). The City Beautiful Movement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Beautiful.
List of tools, supplies, and other resources for preparing and developing the garden
*Long handled, Round-nosed Shovels, for general turning soil and compost
Short/D-handled, Square-nosed Digging Spade, for double -digging and sod removal
Rectangular Digging Spade, for digging straight-edged holes (for trees or larger
*Steel, Level-head or Bow Rakes, for smoothing and grading soil, incorporating
compost into the soil surface, and covering seeds
Garden Hoes, for weeding, cultivating soil, and making furrows to plant seeds into
*Hand Shovels and Trowels, for weeding, cultivating and planting seedlings in
Small Front-tine or larger, more powerful, Rear-tine Rotary Tillers, (depending on the
size of the area to be tilled and the hardness of the soil) for initial
preparation and aeration of beds, and working compost into soil
*Wheel-barrows, for moving soil/compost or if removing sod from the site
*Spading (Digging) Fork, for turning and aerating soil and compost, and digging for
Broadfork, (if needed) for loosening and aerating soil with minimal structural
disturbance to soil and soil organisms (sometimes used instead of the
Mattock, (if needed) used if the soil is very hard
Sod Cutter, (if needed) for removing sod (manual or motorized), but you can use shovels
Loopers, for pruning small-diameter tree and shrub branches
Swivel Saw, for pruning back shrubs and trees
100+ ft. measuring tape
Building tools and supplies if building a fence, tool box/shed, raised beds, signs or
a bulletin board
Irrigation system supplies: timer, hoses, drip line, filter, sprinklers, etc. depending on
which type of irrigation system has been chosen.
Garbage bag for litter
String and stakes for delineating plots
Untreated wood for raised beds, lining the paths, etc.
Benches and tables
Wood chips for the path
(* indicates most essential)
Neglected Parcels to
Keeping a garden pest-free can be a challenge. Every gardener has lost a plant to pests or disease at some point in his orher gardening experience. It is easy to react with anger – many of us have sworn vengeance on each and every plantdestroyer that has ever crawled on the earth! But before we place land mines around our beloved heirloom tomatoes, weshould first ask ourselves to look at the big picture. Quite often the reason why the plant was lost was within our controlfrom the beginning.For organic gardeners, the key to healthy plants is prevention. If your soil is healthy, your plantings are well planned, andyour plants have access to adequate nutrients, you will have fewer problems with pests and disease. As the old sayinggoes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ So, rather than investing in chemical solutions to pest problems,try investing in the general health of your garden – your plants (and beneficial insects) will thank you.Eight Steps to a Healthy Garden:
1. Build Healthy Soil
Soil that is rich in organic matter and microorganisms will provide a balance of nutrients for your plants. Mostgardeners prefer a loamy soil, with a balance of sand, silt, and clay. Consider performing a soil test to determine ifyour soil is deficient in a certain area. Quite often a nutrient deficiency, such as a lack of calcium or nitrogen, maybe attracting pests to your plants. Even if you have all the elements present in your soil, it is the small life forms(invertebrates, microbes, fungus) that work to create healthy soil. The three best things you can do to condition yoursoil and encourage microbial life are to grow cover crops, mulch around bare soil, and add compost that you’vemade from your leftover plant materials.
2. Choose the Right Plants
as you would not plant a palm tree in the
3. Plan Diverse Plantings
When you create greater plant and animal diversity in your garden, you are supporting a better balance betweengarden pests and beneficial insects. Planting a large area of one plant (monocropping), is similar to leaving an opencandy counter in a neighborhood full of children. Like the kid in the candy store, pests that are attracted to that cropwill come from everywhere and eat everything in site. When you plant diverse crops, you are inviting manydifferent insects, who will keep each other in balance. Remember that flowers attract beneficial insects. You willfind numerous sources of information on companion planting, crop rotation, and interplanting in the resources listedbelow.
4. Buy Healthy Plants
Healthy plants will resist pests and diseases. Once you have selected appropriate plant varieties, be sure to inspect theplants in the nursery to ensure that they are healthy and pest, disease and mold-free. This will give your garden a greathead start.
5. Provide Proper Plant Care
Again, if you plants are under stress, they will be more susceptible to attacks from pests. By providing adequatewater (not too much, not too little), and monitoring nutrient needs, you are not only meeting immediate needs, butalso preventing problems in the future.
Your records may be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. Some gardeners like to keep journals of theirgardening experience, while others prefer precise records of planting dates, compost application, and so forth.