A Sustainable Future for Elizabeth Street Garden

Elizabeth Street Garden (ESG) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission to: Protect & preserve the magic of Elizabeth Street Garden as a public community green space and to determine how NYC Parks & Recreation together with the community can protect the space for generations to enjoy.

ESG wants to save the Garden you all know and love!  For this reason, we aim to protect & preserve the Garden in a way that allows the unique qualities, statuary, and architectural aspects to remain, while providing the public open green space our community desperately needs. 

Below you will find  different models of how our community can save the Garden, as well as ESG's vision for a sustainable future as a Conservation Land Trust. Please note that before any of these options can be fully pursued, we must stop the City's plans to destroy the Garden.



NYC PARK - Mapped park land (MPL)



  • The land would be transferred from DCAS into Parks.

  • A management agreement with Parks department could be arranged for ESG to still operate at the garden.

  • ESG would be saved in perpetuity.

  • There is no record of Community Gardens founded by community becoming MPL.**

  • "The likelihood of NYC Parks designating ESG as MPL is slim."**


  • ESG would be open dawn to dusk, or otherwise designated by Parks.

Physical Space

  • As a NYC Park - none of the statuary or architechtual elements in the garden would be able to exist. All would be removed.**

  • Any monuments on MPL would have to be accepted in the City’s collection and reinstalled, costing thousands.**

  • The planting of any tree, plant, flower, shrubbery or other vegetation requires written approval from Parks.

Community Involvement

  • The Garden would have to abide by Parks regulations.

  • Parks would manage the space with staff or a management agreement could be established with ESG.


  • The Garden would be funded by the City, unless a management agreement with ESG stated otherwise.


Green Thumb Garden (GT)



  • ESG would be transferred to Parks department, but the land would not be official MPL.

  • Parks jurisdiction has provided significant protection for hundreds of gardens, but it doesn’t have the extra protections of MPL.**

  • Licensed garden status offers greater protection and if ever threatened, the community would be heavily involved in the process.**


  • ESG would manage hours - same as now (46hrs/wk) or more.

  • With ESG no longer having to fight to save the Garden, we could focus our funds towards keeping the Garden open longer.

  • The requirement for GT is 20hrs/wk.

Physical space

  • GT garden rules are looser than MPL and could allow for most of the unique qualities, statuary and architechtual aspects of the Garden to remain.**

  • Gardening plots would remain for public gardening/farming.

Community Involvement 

  • As is or more.

  • ESG would still manage the space with neighbors, volunteers and staff.


  • ESG would continue to raise funds.

  • ESG would continue developing a plan to occasionally rent the Garden for private events/photoshoots in order to raise significant funds.

  • GT gardens are eligible to receive gardening supplies and resources throughout the year.


Conservation land trust (CLT)



  • A CLT is a nonprofit corporation that develops & stewards spaces on behalf of the community.

  • An existing nonprofit, such as ESG, can act as the CLT.

  • As a CLT, ESG would own the land and continue to program and keep the garden open to the public.

  • The ways in which the land is acquired can vary. Examples include: lease agreements, land acquisition and land easements.

  • ESG could also partner with an existing CLT.


  • ESG would manage hours - same as now (46hrs/wk) or more.

  • A requirement could also be negotiated by the City and Community Board.

  • With ESG no longer having to fight to save the Garden, we could focus our funds towards keeping the Garden open longer.

physical space

  • As a CLT the unique qualities, statuary and architechtual aspects of the Garden would remain.

  • Gardening plots would remain for public gardening/farming.

Community involvement

  • As is or more.

  • ESG would own the land and manage the space with neighbors, volunteers, and staff.

  • ESG would continue to expand upon community involvement.


  • ESG would continue to raise funds.

  • ESG would continue developing a plan to occasionally rent the Garden for private events/photoshoots in order to raise significant funds.

  • The City wouldn't have to spend any money at all.

**Statements obtained from a Senior NYC Parks Community Outreach & Development Representative. 

A Sustainable Future As a Land Trust

Saved in its entirety, Elizabeth Street Garden has the vast potential to grow as an environmentally & financially sustainable energy efficient community garden with improved year-round public access.  As a Conservation Land Trust, ESG will require no City funding in order to maintain the Garden’s physical upkeep, hundreds of free public programs, staffing, and future plans.  ESG will establish the areas listed below.  These future plans are only possible if the Garden’s current size and state is preserved.

ESG - Garden Map-B.jpg

Site A

ESG will use this area to build a new greenhouse conservatory for year-round gardening, harvesting & food security.


Site B

This area will be cleaned to make room for a composting station and improved volunteer/work shed and storage.


Site C

The roof of the lean-to will be equipped with solar panels for energy sufficiency.  The structure will be outfitted so that it can be better utilized by the public through the winter.


Site D

Stairs to the existing balcony will be rebuilt. Tables & chairs added to  increase accessibility.

Year-Round Gardening & Food Security [Site A]

  • A greenhouse conservatory built on the north-side paved way will offer a beautiful place to grow local food, flowers, houseplants, and all types of seedlings — year round.

  • Access to site A for gardening and harvesting could be granted to garden volunteers/members — encouraging local participation.

  • A greenhouse will also provide a space equipped for planting workshops for all ages, including local schools. This will allow ESG to expand upon it’s existing local pubic school workshops.

  • Produce will offer food security for those in need, local organizations (such as Bowery Mission), and local restaurants, further connecting our community with the garden.

  • The majority of other community gardens in NYC lack the amount of space needed for a large greenhouse. ESG is fortunate to have enough space to build such a structure while continuing to offer a large amount of outdoor green and garden space as well.

  • Such a greenhouse can be funded with ESG’s financial structure.


Site A - Click to Enlarge


Site B - Click to Enlarge

Site C & D - Click to Enlarge

Environmental Sustainability

[Site B & C]

  • A compost bin station in site B will allow ESG to begin a local composting program for neighbors and volunteers. Neighbors will be encouraged to bring food scraps for composting on designated days. The organic matter will then be recycled into the soil in the garden.

  • A leaf compost bin will reduce the amount of organic waste from the Garden during the fall and winter (Site B).

  • With the composting station ESG will provide larger composting workshops for all ages, including local public school workshops (Site B).

  • The existing shed structure will be improved and used as work & storage area for Garden workers and volunteers (Site B).

  • Solar panels installed on the top of the lean-to will provide enough renewable energy for the front and back of the garden (Site C).

  • Site C will be developed into a year-round area open to the public using heating/winertizing, a banquet table, seating, a small lending library and more.

  • Site C will also be used for student workshops — art programs, and an outdoor gallery.

Overall Improved Public Access [Site A, B, C & D]

  • With the composting station, greenhouse, and improved lean-to area, ESG will be offering more public space.

  • The existing stone balcony in site D will also offer more seating and garden viewing area.


ESG will explore the combination of volunteers, staffing, and established local internship programs.


Currently, ESG is a volunteer based organization. 

Volunteers supervise and manage the garden by signing up for 1 - 2 hour time slots.  If paired with staff/interns, volunteers slots would be offered primarily during the weekend. Volunteer slots provide the opportunity to strengthen and grow the sense of community.  Neighbors have the opportunity to meet one another and foster a relationship.


ESG will seek to establish internship programs with local universities such as NYU, Parsons, and PACE.  This will allow students to gain credit while giving back to the community.  For students new to the neighborhood/city, such a program will offer students the opportunity to further integrate into the community and get to know their neighbors.


Staff could be used to maintain consistency in the Gardens open hours.  During the weekday working hours, when volunteers are unable to be at the garden, staff will allow the garden to remain open.

In the future, when funds are not directed towards saving the garden, a portion can be dedicated to staffing the garden and expanding our operating hours.