Homegrown in New York, Food From Around the World


Jose Ramos, 89, is a retired maintenance worker from Puerto Rico who works in a community garden every day in the summer. Credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times.

This summer, the Parks Department’s GreenThumb program — the nation’s largest community garden program — has grown to 553 gardens, up from 501 in 2009.

By Winnie Hu
New York Times
July 30, 2017


Bill LoSasso, the director of GreenThumb, said the program had increased its efforts to create more community gardens across the city, especially in largely immigrant communities where many newcomers have roots in agricultural areas. Its budget has increased to $2.9 million annually from $720,000 three years ago, and its staff has nearly doubled to 35 people, who provide training and support and free materials like plants, shovels and wheelbarrows.

“Sometimes when you arrive in a new place, you don’t have a network you can tap into for support,” Mr. LoSasso said. “By joining a community garden, you’re joining a network of neighbors who are coming from diverse backgrounds who can help new members of their community to get settled.”

About 3.2 million New Yorkers, or 38 percent of the city’s population of 8.5 million, were born in other countries, according to an analysis of census data by Queens College. About half of those immigrants came from the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

Queens had the largest number of foreign-born residents, with 1.1 million, followed by Brooklyn with 992,255 and the Bronx with 514,360.

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