Lots to Grow is a deep dive podcast into New York City's community gardens, unique open spaces created and maintained by neighborhood volunteers.
As NYC grows and develops, how are gardens and their caretakers adapting to the new challenges that come from neighborhood change?
Through interviews with more than 35 individuals, New Yorkers for Parks catalogues the history of gardens, their present day functions, and how they are dealing with issues ranging from cultural clashes to losses of land to their complicated and sometimes temporary status.
This podcast was created by Jessica Saab, the Leon Levy Research & Policy Fellow for Great Parks, with the support of the New Yorkers for Parks team.
New episodes on Wednesdays starting July 24.
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Coming July 2019 - a podcast about gardens and communities in New York City by New Yorkers for Parks. Featured in this teaser are the voices of Greg Anderson, Gil Lopez, Kofi Thomas, Sara Jones, and Jessica Saab. The song is "The Garden State" by Audiobinger.
July 24, 2019
Sprouting Up: Community Gardens in New York City
New York City suffered an economic crisis in the 1970s. Residents took over vacant lots, where buildings had burned, and transformed them into gardens. For decades, these gardens flourished as healthy spaces cherished by their communities, cared for exclusively by volunteers. In 1999, 114 gardens were listed for auction by Mayor Giuliani, which made all gardeners reckon with the temporary status of their gardens and mobilize citywide.
In the first episode of Lots to Grow, we explore this history and how the dramatic protests gardeners launched affected gardens citywide.
July 31, 2019
Inch by Inch, Row by Row: Measuring Community Gardens Today
Community gardens in New York City serve the public in a variety of intersecting ways. From providing greenery and increased property values to enhancing social networks and ecological resiliency, they are strong models for open community space. Despite this, they exist in temporary status, and their volunteer caretakers struggle to prove their worth in measurable terms. How do gardens create impact and how can their volunteer caretakers prove it?
On the second episode of Lots to Grow, we explore community gardens’ current functions and the research that captures their value.
August 21, 2019
Here’s the Dirt: Community Garden Struggles
As volunteer-run temporary spaces, community gardens are constantly contending with issues that could result in their destruction. From the public’s basic misunderstanding of what they are to cultural clashes between volunteers to the loss of access to their garden's land, New York City’s gardeners must be flexible, responsive, and quick to adapt.
On the third episode of Lots to Grow, we explore the different challenges community gardens face as the demand for land and housing increase in the ever-changing landscape of New York City.
Coming soon - Lazándose pronto
What is this? This is a piece of audio journalism in a serial podcast format.
Why was it done? The goal of this podcast is to raise awareness about the history, existence, and current challenges of community gardens in New York City today.
When was it done? From January to May 2019, more than 20 interviews with over 35 individuals were conducted. At the same time, background research was done, and from May to August 2019, the episodes were recorded, mixed, reviewed, and published.
Who was interviewed? The following individuals were kind enough to lend us their time and share their experiences with us:
Gregory Anderson, Michelle Arvin, Angela Bonas, Earl Bonas, Barbara Cahn, Rene Calvo, Carmen, Aziz Dekhan, Amantina Duran, Vere Gibbs, Rodrigo Gonzalez, Tammy Hall, Nancy Hoch, Christine (Chris) Johnson, A. Mychal Johnson, Sara Jones, Jose Cabrera, Owen Kennedy, Charles Krezell, Celestina (Celeste) Leon, Gil Lopez, Carlos Melendez, Rose Moon, Zhenia Nagorny, Sandy Nurse, Genevieve Outlaw, Renée Peperone, Arlene Roberts, Mike Schweinsburg, Marc Shefflett, Annette Spellen, Kofi Thomas, Arif Ullah, Irene Van Slyke, Gerard Volel, K Webster, and Zach Williams.
Who did the interviews? Jessica Saab, the 2018-2019 Leon Levy Research & Policy Fellow for Great Parks.
Who overdubbed the translations? Joanna Saab and Josué Pérez.
How was this edited? On Apple's GarageBand.
Lots to Grow by New Yorkers for Parks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This project was made possible thanks to the Leon Levy Foundation, who funds the Fellows for Great Parks program, and to WeWork, which gave us space for many of the interviews and served as the home base for editing.
Thanks are due to all those who answered our questions in the background research phase, both on and off the record.
Thanks are also due to NYC Parks GreenThumb for answering our questions, publicizing our project, liaising between gardeners, and providing data for our research.
A big thank you to all those who agreed to be interviewed for this project! It was a pleasure to speak with you all and, while a lot of the stories didn't make the final cut, all of the conversations were great background knowledge and context. We hope this project is useful for you and your garden group, and we hope you enjoy listening to it.
Thank you to all those who will listen to this podcast. We hope you also enjoy it, learn new things, and feel empowered to become involved in your local open spaces!
Last, Jessica would also like to thank the rest of the New Yorkers for Parks team who helped develop, edit, and publicize this project.
The content, opinions, and recommendations presented in this podcast are presented for general information purposes only. All third party interview excerpts and content referenced in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards, or policies of New Yorkers for Parks. The interview excerpts included in this podcast have been edited for length and episode relevance. Any edits that changed content and/or context of the interviews are unintentional.