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NYC Community Garden Mapping Project Data

NB: this section was written in late 2003. For updates to the community garden data, see the OASIS wiki.

Maps and a wealth of information about New York City Community Gardens are now available on Open Accessible Space Information Systems (OASIS): www.oasisnyc.net. OASIS is a cooperative effort of non-profit open space and environmental organizations, city, state and federal agencies, and private companies. This website includes all publicly available open space and environmental information in digitized form that can be displayed on computer generated maps.

Now as before, this interactive searchable Geographic Information System (GIS) website is powered by ArcIMS, an Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) web-based mapping software. All of the maps, information, and functionality are navigable with any standard Internet browser.

Information about each garden is also available, including land ownership, open hours, garden programs, membership, and physical features. Many gardens have a written description and a photo image provided by gardeners, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation GreenThumb, and other community greening organizations. GrowNYC has updated the website information regularly to correct any out-of-date information. We encourage anyone familiar with a specific garden to send us updated and/or additional information or photos.

The gardens are displayed on the maps by tax block and lot. (Every block in New York City is numbered and each block is divided into individual lots that also have numbers associated with them. The combination of borough, block, and lot yields a unique identification number for each lot.) Community gardens may encompass one or more lots. When you click on the map to identify the garden, you will receive information about that particular lot. If the garden has multiple lots the information will be repeated for each lot. In some cases the garden only occupies a portion of the lot. This is particularly true where gardens are located in a park or at a school. The garden may be displayed as the whole lot. Garden location and size will be updated as we collect more detailed information.

The website also allows the user to pan or move the map on the computer screen, and to zoom in or out. Follow the simple directions on screen or view the help page to perform these functions. Many additional layers of information and aerial photos can also be displayed on the OASIS website that were not available on the former CGMP website.

Website visitors will also be able to identify any other lot in the city and view information from the NYC Department of Finance about zoning and ownership. As with any database about property that doesn't give real time data, this information may be outdated or inaccurate. GrowNYC assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of any information included on this website.

Teams of Americorps volunteers, high school students and community gardeners have checked the maps for accuracy by measuring and taking field notes during the summers of 2000, 2001 and 2002. GrowNYC has had many partners in this map verification task. Americorps volunteers from the Parks Council (now New Yorkers for Parks) and The New York Restoration Project worked in communities where they provide assistance to community gardeners. A group of 26 youth from Open Road, Magnolia Tree Earth Center and GrowNYC's Environmental Education Program took part in the 2000 Summer Youth Mapping Project.

Thirty one youth from Fordham Bedford Children's Services, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, West 181st Street Beautification Committee, Open Road, Magnolia Tree Earth Center, GrowNYC's Environmental Education Program, The Brotherhood- Sister Sol and El Puente worked in the 2001 Summer Youth Mapping Project to field correct the maps of 6 community boards. Together, the teams have field corrected 13 community boards to date.

The Americorps teams and summer youth were trained in basic GIS map skills using ArcExplorer and received database instruction in Excel. They also produced maps for verification on their own and were able to create database files of the map corrections for updating by GrowNYC staff. The young people were part of a project that involved them in action-oriented environmental education work experiences while training them and giving them real life experience using database and GIS software.

Building upon the success of the field data collection and map creation/ modification by young people, the 29 youth in the 2002 Summer Youth Mapping Project interviewed approximately 200 community gardeners about their gardens to gather additional information about the gardens. The Levitt Foundation supported the Summer Youth Mapping Project for three years. Photos of the gardens were taken and field survey correction sheets were used to edit or add to the information about community gardens after comparing existing data to actual garden conditions.

A continuing education web design class created a website; called East Side Story gateways.unhny.org/ess based on the CGMP maps. The students added additional information about their community that was important to them as parents. We trained the group in data collection, basic map making using Arc Explorer and introduced them to the OASIS and CGMP websites.

CENYC and CMAP also produced 110 printed maps in July 2001 for each Community Board and City Council district so that maps are available to those who do not have access to computers and the Internet. These maps are also available on OASIS by clicking the Maps by Community Board and Council District link.

The printed maps are an important information tool for making informed decisions about community land use planning. The website is useful to urban planners, Community Boards, community gardeners, elected officials, and others interested in open space issues as they plan and research communities. Researchers have used this data to study community gardens and to add data to the website.

Community residents who may not otherwise have access to technology skills and information are learning mapping and database software. CGMP staff has presented workshops at conferences and offered advice and technical assistance to groups interested in doing similar projects. Other cities have followed the CGMP lead and developed mapping projects in their cities.

For the year August 2002 to July 2003, the website received 73,857 requests for information from a monthly average of 285 different organizations. Users included elected officials, GreenThumb staff and other city agency employees, urban planners, newspaper and magazine reporters, researchers and community gardeners. The website is a direct link from GreenThumb's website for garden information. Other community garden organizations including the American Community Gardening Association have links on their web pages to this site. The greatest number of referrals comes from the Council on the Environment's (CENYC) website, www.cenyc.org, averaging 287 per month.

The New York City Community Garden Mapping Project has been supported by funding, technical training and in-kind support from the Youth, Community Gardens and Urban Environment Initiative of the Philanthropic Collaborative, Inc., the Levitt Foundation, the Conservation Technology Support Program, ESRI, GreenThumb, CMAP and the USDA Forest Service's Urban Resources Partnership.

For any additional information please contact:
Lenny Librizzi
GrowNYC
51 Chambers St, Room 228
New York, N.Y. 10007
212-788-7927 phone
212-788-7913 fax
llibrizzi@GrowNYC.org