Press Releases

Monday, November 29, 2010
No. 107

Parks Announces Extension Of Community Garden License Agreements

The Department of Parks & Recreation, partnering with the City Council, today announced an extension of the license terms for Parks community gardens. Under the provisions of the prior 2002 agreement, Parks registered and licensed gardens every two years. We are pleased to announce that, beginning in January 2011, gardens will be registered and licensed for a period of four years.

“Community gardens with active citizen participation offer enormous benefits to New York City’s public health and quality of life,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “The Parks Department shares the gardeners’ commitment to preserving these important open spaces and, through our GreenThumb division, we have been actively involved in the success of community gardens for decades. We are pleased to have worked with the City Council to extend the license term for gardens and to strengthen their protections.”

“As we continue to work for long term protections for community gardens, I commend the Parks Department for extending the terms of the licensing agreements,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This change, coming on the heels of the new rules, is another positive step in giving gardens greater protections. These will be the first licenses that will be in effect into the next Administration, so it underscores that these gardens are meant to endure, regardless of who is in office.”

“I am pleased that the Parks Department will extend the terms of license agreements for community gardeners to four years,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This is a common sense move that will continue to help preserve our city's gardens in the short term. I look forward to continuing to work with the Department to explore measures that will provide for stronger long-term protections. I thank Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe for their continued commitment to preserving open spaces and Speaker Quinn for her leadership on the issue of community gardens.”

The Parks Department is committed to the preservation and continued success of community gardens. No active gardens in the Parks Department’s jurisdiction have been developed, transferred for development or defaulted during the past eight years. As proof of our commitment, new rules were established in September 2010 to incorporate and expand on the protections afforded gardens by the original 2002 Community Gardens agreement. By working with our partners in the community garden community (who were involved in the negotiations), the City Council, and other civic groups, including the New York Restoration Project, the new rules improved on the original agreement. That expired agreement, negotiated between the City of New York and the office of the State Attorney General, did not make community gardens permanent. Rather, it provided a transparent and public mechanism should certain gardens be needed for other uses. We will continue to work with and listen to the garden community as we explore concepts to identify and provide assistance to gardens in advance of a default.

The new rules offer increased levels of transparency and more opportunities for the public to be a part of the process. Based on feedback we received from the garden community and others, the new rules contain provisions and language that were not in the original agreement:

  • Active gardens are preserved as gardens as long as they are registered and licensed by the Department and are under Parks’ jurisdiction.
  • Licenses will be renewed as long as the garden satisfies the registration criteria.
  • Parks must attempt to identify successor gardening groups for failing gardens and has nine months from the time of default to return the garden to active status.
  • New gardens may be created and will have the same protections as existing gardens.
  • A party licensed by the City to perform work that results in damage to a garden will be required by these new rules to return the garden to its pre-existing condition.
  • The Department of Parks will attempt to provide notices required under the current rules to gardeners in other languages.

For more information on community gardens, please visit the Parks website at

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