Press Releases

Thursday, March 23, 2006
No. 17

City Drops Liability Insurance Requirements For Community Gardeners

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced this week that the City would now extend municipal liability protection to community gardeners, thereby no longer requiring garden organizations to pay for private insurance policies. Previously gardeners were provided with affordable group insurance by the Neighborhood Open Space Coalition (NOSC), but, after years of rising costs, NOSC could no longer bear the financial and administrative burden. The announcement was first made to a gathering of hundreds of community gardeners at the annual GreenThumb "Grow Together" conference last Saturday at Hostos Community College.

"This decision affects thousands of gardeners who maintain over 500 gardens on City-owned land," said Commissioner Benepe. "We look forward to providing gardeners the support they need in order for our gardens to bloom for years to come."

Gardeners have been required to carry private liability insurance since the beginning of the GreenThumb program in 1978. The GreenThumb program is funded entirely by Federal Community Development Block Grant monies, which are disseminated throughout the City’s low-income communities.

For years, NOSC provided insurance to each garden at the cost of $250 per year. However, after a series of manmade and natural disasters, the cost per garden rose to $425 per year.

"We want the gardeners planting flowers, not planning bake sales to pay for liability insurance," said Edie Stone, the head of GreenThumb.

Since August 2005, the City has explored alternatives to the group insurance provided by NOSC. According to NOSC, only seven claims have ever been filed, and only three have resulted in payments to injured parties. Moreover, the City has repaired sidewalks and/or fences at dozens of gardens over the last year to reduce the likelihood of future injury claims.

In the future, claims against the City resulting from injuries suffered in gardens will be treated the same as claims arising from incidents on all other City land. The City is self-insured and pays valid claims out of current tax revenue.

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