For almost a decade, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation GreenThumb program has collected data about hundreds of New York City community gardens citywide to understand how these gardens function. Building on a data set that includes surveys and interviews conducted periodically with garden representatives since 2003, GreenThumb and USDA Forest Service researchers have conducted a new round of community garden interviews examining membership, programming, partnerships, and motivations for gardening. This comprehensive study of the largest community gardening program in the United States aims to understand the evolving role of community gardens in New York City. The study asks: From 2003-2011, is gardeners' motivation for creating and participating in community gardens persistent or changing? How do the use and social functions of community gardens evolve or remain the same? What sort of programs and community events are held in gardens? How has garden membership changed over time? Is membership increasing, decreasing, or staying the same? Who participates in gardening in neighborhoods with changing demographics? During the summer of 2011, structured interviews were conducted by phone with representatives from a sample of 102 community gardens for which survey data existed from 2003, 2007, and 2009. These research findings will help assess the ways in which New York City community gardens have evolved and can continue to grow in the future.
Svendsen, Erika S.; Campbell, Lindsay K.; Falxa-Raymond, Nancy; Northridge, Jessica; Stone, Edie; Mees, Caroln. 2012. Introducing a longitudinal study of community gardeners and gardens in New York City. Cities and the Environment (CATE). 5(1): article 11.