Patch covers the GreenThumb license issue

A new article in Patch About the GreenThumb license Here’s the link:

Community Garden Volunteers Fear Rule Changes Herald End Of Oases

Community garden volunteers are gearing up for a fight against the city’s new rules for how they operate.

By Sydney Pereira, Patch Staff
Aug 14, 2019 8:17 am ET | Updated Aug 14, 2019 10:19 am ET

La Plaza Cultural Community Garden on East Ninth Street and Avenue C.
La Plaza Cultural Community Garden on East Ninth Street and Avenue C. (Sydney Pereira/Patch)

EAST VILLAGE, NY — Community gardens’ custodians are gearing up for a battle against the city’s Parks Department over new rules they fear could threaten the future of the tranquil oases.

New licensing agreements for hundreds of community gardens impose rules that members say are overly onerous for the volunteer-run green spaces across the city – with many saying they make it difficult for them to survive.

The changes include requiring additional permitting for events in the gardens and would bar volunteers from planting new trees or pruning large limbs from existing one, according to details made available by the group Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens which advocates for gardens in the Lower East Side and East Village.

“New York City is threatening to throw gardeners out of community gardens,” the group’s website says.

“We’ve never had to give permission before to do anything in the gardens like that. That really limits things people can do in the garden,” said the head of LUNGS’ Charles Krezell. Opposition to licensing hasn’t been this widespread in decades, he added.

“It’s like they’re setting us up to somehow fail,” he said.

Gardeners have also raised concerns over who is liable if anybody is injured on the property, which remains unclear in the license text, they say.

A gardener at East Village garden La Plaza Cultural, Noreen Kelly, called the new licensing “ridiculous.”

“We’re all volunteers — so this is a difficult thing for us to triangulate,” said Kelly, who estimated there’s a dozen events per month at her garden, located at East Ninth Street and Avenue C.

Additional steps to schedule events would be a “serious time suck on all of us.”

The Parks Department said license renewals happen every four years and have small changes each cycle.

Parks spokesperson Dan Kastanis said “this cycle is no different,” emphasizing the benefits of the new rules, like increasing how many hours gardens are open and more events coordination with the city for safety purposes.

Kastanis said the changes “include making the gardens more accessible by keeping them open to the public during the weekend; allowing gardens to host more fundraising events so they can sustain themselves; and increasing safety by asking gardens to coordinate with Green Thumb ahead of planned events.”

Parks added after consultation with groups last year that most gardeners seemed fine with the licenses.

But some garden members see it as “an obvious attempt for them to try to [take] the land away from us,” said Kelly.

LUNGS published a laundry list of inconsistencies in the new agreement and handbook as well as recommendations for GreenThumb, the Parks Department entity that works with hundreds of gardens citywide. Some of those have been resolved — like allowing gardens to choose whether dogs are allowed and permitting farm programs for weekly produce pick-ups to operate in the gardens, according to the New York City Community Garden Coalition.

“This is not something that we’re just saying just to be saying and just to be difficult,” said Raymond Figueroa-Reyes, the president of the NYC Community Garden Coalition and member at the Brook Park Youth Farm Community Garden in the Bronx. “Community residents have been stewarding these places for decades.”

“If the city just left us alone, the community development potential of community gardens is unlimited,” he said.

Figueroa-Reyes and Krezell say the burden from the new rules would allow the city to more readily revoke licenses from the garden to allow the city to use the property for other purposes.

“The community does feel threatened overall as a result of that, in terms of what we are being set up for,” said Figueroa-Reyes.

Some 180 gardens have already signed the agreements out of 353 gardens expected to sign, according to Parks.

Many are refusing to sign the license. The deadline to sign it is Monday, Aug. 19, and the Parks Department has told groups they won’t be permitted to continue operate without it, according to emails from the department to garden reps provided to Patch.

Gardens citywide — from the Lower East Side to Brownsville, Brooklyn to the South Bronx — will rally Monday, at 10 a.m., on the steps of City Hall.

Join us at the Rally to Protect Community Gardens! City Hall Monday, August 19 at 10am.

New York City is threatening to throw gardeners out of community gardens!

Since 1978, community gardeners and GreenThumb have enjoyed a very fruitful relationship. Gardeners have voluntarily given their time, labor, and money to be stewards of the City’s property so that the entire community can benefit from these much-needed green spaces.

In April, community gardeners were given a new four-year license agreement that substantially changes that relationship.

Under the new license, GreenThumb becomes an enforcement agency rather than a garden-friendly helpmate. This new license imposes new regulations, restrictions, and obligations on garden groups.

It was written by lawyers with no sense of the historical and cultural significance of the gardens and their communities. Now we are being told that we are being allowed to garden on city property and if we don’t like the new license we don’t have to garden.

Gardeners have voiced great concerns. At a Town Hall in May, gardeners voted unanimously to not sign the license. In the past 40 years there has never been widespread opposition to garden licenses.

We have tried to negotiate changes to the license; we want to continue to work toward a better license. But the City is threatening garden groups with a lockout. We have grave concerns about these items in the new license:

  • There are three sets of regulations that gardens are required to follow, these regulations are inconsistent, contradictory, and confusing.
  • Liability issues remain unresolved. The term “Licensee” in the agreement is not defined, what does it mean for the person signing the license on behalf of their community garden?
  • Gardens are required to hold two free public events a year but must obtain written permission far in advance from GreenThumb to hold these events.
  • Many of the new rules will be impossible to effectively enforce given the size of GreenThumb’s staff. This can only lead to arbitrary, discriminatory enforcement. Gardens will be lost because of developers’ greed not garden infractions.

They are kicking us out of their own gardens?  I DON’T THINK SO!!

Join us Monday, August 19 at 10am on the City Hall steps.

Wear your flowers in your hair! Vegetables welcome!

Contact or go to

The new GreenThumb license has caused an uproar

LUNGS, the New York City Community Garden Coalition and MORUS are holding a city-wide Town Hall to discuss the license agreement.
Please send a garden rep.

The Town Hall is this Saturday, May 18 from 11am-1pm at St Mark’s Church, 131 E.10th St at Second Ave.

Our gardens are being told to sign this is a four-year agreement. Separate garden meetings across the City have been raised many concerns about this new license

We urge your garden NOT to sign this license at this time.

We are asking community gardeners to come together for this Town Hall. We want to discuss the issues, formulate a united response and a develop a strategy.

The new license and the changes from the old one be found on the LUNGS website HERE.

This new license contains many new regulations, restrictions and obligations that are being forced upon gardeners. GreenThumb appears to be taking on the role of an enforcement agency rather than garden-friendly enablers.

This very is disconcerting to gardeners who volunteer their time and spend their own money to maintain city property.

GreenThumb requires that the garden reps make all gardeners aware of the contents of the new license agreement.

Gardens are being asked to sign this license as soon as tomorrow, May 13. Again, we urge you not to sign the license.

We have not had enough time to study this agreement and request that GreenThumb slow up this entire process.

It took the City more then four months to put this license together. Gardeners should be allowed more than one month to evaluate a document we are being asked to sign.

We have asked gardens to discuss the new GreenThumb license with your membership. We are compiling gardens’ responses.
Please send your garden’s licensing questions/issues to

GreenThumb Garden License Agreement Online & Meeting

GreenThumb’s new licenses for our community gardens were send out last week.

The paperwork only went to garden reps, one copy per garden. Everyone should take a look at the license so we posted it on ABOVE on the LUNGS website.

Take a gander and give it some thought. We are meeting to discuss the license agreement this Saturday, April 27 at High NOON at Green Oasis, 370 e. 8th St between Avenues C & D.

This is an important meeting. We need your input to figure out how we should proceed. Please try and send at least one person from your garden, this license affects all of us.

MONDAY, April 22, Let’s Celebrate Earth Day in East River Park

MONDAY IS EARTH DAY-let’s celebrate in East River Park

Monday, April 22, is Earth Day.
Let’s show our love for Mother Nature and East River Park.
The Park is under threat. Mother Nature’s on the run.

It’s time for hugs and kisses all around!

Let’s all meet at the Ecology Center and the Seals from Noon til 5pm.

School’s out for the weekBring your kids and have fun

Calling all musiciansacoustic only— a day-long jam, bring your instruments and sing to the Seals.
Dare I say Bunny hop?

Go fly a kite–we have kites, grab one, decorate it  and take off!

Art projects– paint a flower, a bird, a fishy thing, we supply paints & brushes, you bring your talent.

Make a poster or a banner decorate the Park with your LOVE.

Testify— we want to record an interview YOU on camera. Tell us your Park story, your nature connection. We want to hear what YOU have to say.

We are thinking games–Lots of room in the Park, what’s a good game?

Dyeing-bring your hard boiled eggs, we will have the dye.
Egg Hunt–somewhere in the park there are hidden treasures–can you find them?
Egg Roll–an old school game in East River Park.  It’s going to be a beautiful day, but only if you show up.

Spring Awakening April 14

This is LUNGS 6th Spring Awakening. It is a neighborhood celebration of the season and the opening of the community gardens. It is all FREE. There will music, a greening theme, kids’ activities, art as well as community-based programs and environmental and educational workshops. Please come and enjoy!