For Affordable Housing in NYC, a Bountiful Harvest

Alison Gregor highlights efforts by affordable housing developers to implement edible community gardens, bringing fresh food and neighborhood ties to inner-city tenants.
April 16, 2012, 11am PDT | Ryan Lue
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Residents of some affordable housing projects in New York City are getting their hands dirty, thanks to new community gardening programs spearheaded by developers.

At Liberty Apartments in East New York, for example, Dunn Development Corporation offers seven raised garden beds to residents of its 43 apartments. Gregor explains, "[Yarittzi] Estevez, who moved into an apartment at Liberty when it opened just over a year ago, said the gardening opportunity was not what drew her to the complex. But she said she was quick to take advantage of it" at the behest of her 8-year-old daughter, Aaliyah.

Serviam Gardens in the Bronx likewise installed 36 plots to, which about 40 of its 243 households have applied to use.

"One of the reasons that low-income communities are focused on green roofs is, often, low-income communities don't have as much accessibility to open space as other neighborhoods," said Abby Jo Sigal, a vice president at nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners.

At Via Verde, another affordable housing project in South Bronx, residents can work on a fifth-floor roof garden. "Preliminary monitoring of the costs of converting Via Verde's fifth-floor green roof to a gardening roof with built-in planters shows that urban agriculture can even be cheaper than providing an aesthetically pleasing but inaccessible green roof," writes Gregor. "Even so, market-rate developers are not yet offering rooftop gardens."

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Published on Thursday, April 5, 2012 in The New York Times
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