Community gardens, sites where individuals can garden in plots on public spaces, have been cropping up all across Long Island in the past few years.
Not that familiar with gardening? Some gardens offer preseason orientation and gardening help throughout the growing season. Registration for plots may have started as early as January or February, but gardens generally accept members as long as spaces are available. If there is a fee, it is nominal — usually less than $50 — and many gardens waive the fee for low-income applicants.
Newer gardens often prepare the beds for first-timers and novice gardeners. Some provide seeds, seedlings and loaner tools. And, to assure organic and sustainable practices, many gardens have a supply of mulch and compost on-site.
“We want our gardeners to use as many organic practices as possible,” says Jim Romansky, a founding member of the Hallockville Museum Farm Community Garden in Riverhead, whose members meet regularly to discuss gardening practices and find noncommercial solutions to gardening problems. “If you’re not going to try to follow organic practices, you might as well go down to the grocery store.”
Here’s a rundown of LI’s community gardens:
WHERE Clover Drive Farms, administered by the Great Neck Adult Program, behind the former Clover Drive Elementary School, 105 Clover Dr.
ELIGIBILITY Residents of Great Neck Public Schools district
PLOTS 40 10-by20-foot, all ground-level, but gardeners may construct temporary raised beds
Established in the 1970s, this organic garden has a waiting list, and most plots become open only when someone moves out of the area. “We have gardeners who have been with us since the garden started in the early ’70s,” says coordinator Una Corr. “We probably have one or two new people who come in every year.”
WHERE The Collaborative Organic Community Garden, on the grounds of Tanglewood Park and Preserve, 1 Tanglewood Rd.
ELIGIBILITY Open to all
PLOTS 17 3-by-27-foot ground-level beds, but gardeners can modify a plot to a raised bed
This community garden follows a cooperative process, with members making up the rules and deciding such things as whether there will be a farm stand and which gardening classes will be offered.
WHERE Tiny Tots Community Garden, on the grounds of Tanglewood Park and Preserve, 1 Tanglewood Rd.
ELIGIBILITY Open to those gardening with a child age 3 or younger
COST $8 per child
PLOTS Everyone gardens together, and the harvest will be divided evenly between all child members and their families.
“We didn’t want the little ones trampling on the community gardens plots while they’re learning to garden,” says Tanglewood director RayAnn Havasy. “With children gardening, you don’t know how much they’ll actually be able to grow, so we wanted it to be communal so no one gets left out.” This teaching program has children in the garden 9:30-11 a.m. Mondays starting in April. “We plant something each Monday,” Havasy says. Children can join the garden at any time during the season.
WHEREBrentwood Community Gardens, corner of McNair Street and MacArthur Avenue
ELIGIBILITY Brentwood residents
PLOTS 20 4-by-8-foot raised beds
Coordinators are on-site from9 a.m.-noon Saturday and 4-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Coordinators strictly monitor plots. Gardeners are required to water and maintain beds at least twice a week. "Any unmaintained or abandoned plots will be reassigned," says co-coordinator Maxima Castor.
The garden offers a combination of gardening and cooking classes throughout the growing season, and will host a harvest festival in October.
WHERE The Growing Together Garden, on the grounds of Mercy Haven, 104 Second Ave.
INFO 631-922-8486, mercyhaven.org
ELIGIBILITY Brentwood residents
COST $25 (waived for low-income residents)
PLOTS 16 5-by-20-foot raised beds, handicap-accessible beds available upon request
A master gardener from Cornell Cooperative Extension will be on site from 4-6 p.m. every Thursday. Members of the community can visit the garden to attend nutrition and gardening classes or take part in the Merch Haven walking club.
“We’re taking a holistic approach to the garden and the space,” says administrator Joan Avolese-Mannino of the push to offer a varied slate of programming at the garden.
WHERE Hobbs Neighborhood Roots Community Garden, part of the Bethel Hobbs Community Farm, 178 Oxhead Rd., Centereach
INFO 631-928-7375, hobbs farm.info
ELIGIBILITY Residents of Centereach and neighboring towns
COST $20-$75, based on a sliding income scale
PLOTS 24 5-by-20-foot ground-level beds
In addition to training, the community garden provides members with free seedlings and loaner tools. The 11-acre farm also grows about 20,000 pounds of food yearly for Long Island charities and hosts an educational garden for schoolchildren and to showcase gardening techniques.
"Drip irrigation is our big draw this year," says Elizabeth Takakjian, garden coordinator.
WHERE Behind the Central Islip Recreation Center, 555 Clayton St.
INFO 631-587-5172, ext. 330
ELIGIBILITY Hamlet and low-income residents given first preference
PLOTS 20 5-by-20-foot raised beds
The garden, which opened in 2011, offers instruction on seed-harvesting and preserving food. Genetically-modified seeds are not allowed at this garden.
WHERE Edith Salzer Organic Community Garden, 808 Nicholls Rd.
ELIGIBILITY Town of Babylon residents
COST $10 ($5 60 and older)
PLOTS 55, combination of 10-by-30-foot and 10-by-15-foot, no raised beds, handicap-accessible beds available upon request
Gardening classes for members taught at the garden, led by members of the Growers Market in Copiague.
WHERE East End Community Organic Farm, 55 Long Lane, administered by EAst End Community Organic
INFO 631-329-4694, eecofarm.org
ELIGIBILITY Open to all
COST $175 ($125 for a second plot after your first year)
PLOTS 120 20-by-20-foot ground-level beds, but gardeners can convert to raised bed
In addition to the community garden, there are working farmers and beekeepers who lease land at this organic farm, which provides farm-made compost to gardeners and farmers. "The thing all our gardeners have in common is that they want to grow their own food, food they can trust," says Peter Garnham, a master gardener.
PLOTS 35 10-by-40-foot raised beds, including 3-foot-tall handicap-accessible beds.
While it is not required, gardeners are encouraged to plant at least one row for the church pantry and also work at least once a season in the pantry garden. There is strict adherence to organic practices in this garden.
WHERE Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill
ELIGIBILITY First preference to Brookhaven residents
PLOTS Five 5-by-10-foot raised beds and two 4-by-4-foot raised beds
This community garden hosts a combination of Town Hall employees and community members.
WHERE Robert M. Kubecka Memorial Organic Garden and the Clifford Soergel Outreach Garden, Dunlop and Greenlawn roads
INFO 631-351-3186, town.huntington.ny.us
ELIGIBILITY Town of Huntington residents
COST $25 ($15 ages 62 and older) for Kubecka; free at Clifford Soergel, but must donate half of harvest to local food banks
PLOTS 350-plus 20-by-30-foot plots at Kubecka; 25 raised beds (three handicap-accessible), 20 ground-level beds and a children’s garden at Clifford Soergel
This 16-acre site serves two needs. Kubecka is strictly a community garden. Clifford Soergel offers both pantry garden plots for donation and plots with preference given to low-income residents.
Around since the 1970s, many of Kubecka’s gardeners have had the same plot for three or more years, with some having added personal touches such as signs, seating and makeshift fences.
Renovation of Clifford Soergel was started in the offseason, and is scheduled to be complete by mid-May. These include raised beds, handicap accessibility and a children’s garden.
WHERE Good Grounds Community Garden, on the grounds of Hampton Bays Middle School, 70 Ponquogue Ave.
INFO 631-723-4700, ext. 2507, hb-schools.us
ELIGIBILITY First preference to Hampton Bays residents and students
PLOTS 25 4-by-10-foot raised beds, handicap-accessible beds available upon request
The garden, which started in 2011, is in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. “We want to teach the community the health benefits of growing your own food,” says Joan Moran, garden co-coordinator. The space hosts both the community garden and a school garden where Hampton Bays students learn to garden.
INFO 631-758-9664, ext. 10
ELIGIBILITY All Brookhaven residents
PLOTS 16 10-by-10-foot raised beds, no handicap-accessible beds
While not certified organic, this garden does follow organic practices. Fee-based gardening classes for adults are offered in the spring and fall.
INFO 631-223-8179, apply online at lican.org
ELIGIBILITY First preference to Huntington Station residents, but open to all Huntington residents
PLOTS 115 raised beds: 24 children’s beds (4-by-12-foot), 85 raised beds for adults: 57 5-by-20-foot, six handicap-accessible (5-by-20-foot, waist-high or taller)
Rising up on the hill next to New York Avenue/Route 110, this community garden is designed to also be a gathering place, hosting potlucks and socialize-and-work days. It also has permanent picnic tables and a mural.
WHERE Grace Lutheran Church, 240 Mastic Rd. at Lincoln Avenue
INFO 631-281-8196, graceinmb.org
ELIGIBILITY All Long Islanders
PLOTS 30 4-by-6-foot, mostly ground-level beds, handicap-accessible beds available
Started in 2011, this organic garden is seeking members. It is working with Cornell Cooperative Extension, which will offer classes throughout the growing season.
WHERE Harrison Hale Community Action Center Community Garden, 576 Granny Rd.
INFO 631-698-8484, bishophale.com
ELIGIBILITY First preference to Gordon Heights residents
PLOTS 60 10-by-5-foot raised beds, handicap-accessible beds available upon request
In addition to the large community garden, this facility has a kitchen garden and a pantry garden (61 Shirley Lane, Medford) maintained by the Believe and Achieve Advantage after-school program for culinary students. The kitchen garden is part of the Cornerstone Church Community Cafe.
WHERE New Suffolk Waterfront Fund Community Garden, foot of Main Street, east of First Street
INFO 631-734-7237, newsuffolkwaterfront.org
ELIGIBILITY All Long Island residents
COST $25 for a half row, $40 for a full row, plus a $10 fee to cover water usage
PLOTS 15 31 / 2-by-30-foot long rows, rent a half or full row
“Rows are narrow, so you can reach anything in your garden without having to step into it,” says co-coordinator Shannon Simon of the garden that is along the waterfront. “It is supposed to be an attraction for the waterfront, so we’re determined to keep it clean, neat and pretty.” Each gardener is responsible not only for maintaining his or her garden, but the path next to the row as well.
"Superstorm Sandy knocked us around a bit," says Linda Auriemma, who handles communication for the garden. "We had a lot of rocks showing and had to do soil testing. The soil is good but we had to do some extra composting."
WHERE Chris Hobson and Bill Neal Memorial Community Garden, northwest corner of Patchogue and McDonald avenues
ELIGIBILITY First preference to North Bellport and low-income residents
COST Free, donations appreciated
PLOTS 20 5-by-20-foot raised beds, handicap-accessible and elderly freindly beds built upon request
This community garden offers cooking demos, gardening classes and workshops throughout the season based on gardeners’ interests and requests.
WHERE Patchogue Planting Patch Community Garden, 380 Bay Ave.
INFO 631-656-8841, facebook.com/PatComGarden
ELIGIBILITY Preference to Patchogue Village residents
PLOTS 44 50 4-by-10-foot raised beds, two to four handicap-accessible beds
In its second year, this is an active community garden. In addition to member potlucks, this garden works to bring the community into the garden through fundraisers and classes.
WHERE Hallockville Museum Farm Community Garden, 6038 Sound Ave.
INFO 631-298-5292, hallockville.com
ELIGIBILITY Open to all Long Island residents
COST $75, plus $45 half plot
PLOTS 20 20-by-20-foot, 10 10-by-20-foot half plots; no raised beds
"We're hosting educational classes where people can learn even if they're not members of the community garden," says Beth Motschenbacher, Hallockville assistant director. They'll offer a four-part series on canning and preserving; as well as stand-alone classes on canning, freezing, drying, making jellies and home canning. They'll also host a seed-saving class June 2 and a tomato tasting Aug. 18, both led by Invincible Summer Farms' Steph Gaylor, who grows more than 300 varieties of tomatoes.
.WHERE River and Roots, West Main Street, at the south end of Griffing Avenue,
INFO 516-459-9069, riverandroots.org
COST $25, waived for low-income gardeners
PLOT 36 4-by-10-foot raised beds, also has a communal herb bed, children’s communal garden and demo area and communal berry bushes and fruit trees
“Our main purpose in being here is to add beauty to downtown Riverhead and to be a place of peace and comfort to anyone who passes by or uses that area,” says co-founder Amy Davidson. Last year, members planted green beans, berry vines and other produce along the fence line. They gave much of this fence row bounty to passersby.
“If we had four gardens, we could fill them with gardeners. Until then, we just want to include others in the community in any way we can,” says Davidson of the generous practice. And, this year they're adding a children's play area adjacent to the garden.
WHERE Shinnecock Reservation, Church Street
ELIGIBILITY Reservation members only
PLOTS 10 4-by-12-foot raised beds, 10 handicap-accessible 5-by5-foot raised beds
Cornell Cooperative Extension will conduct canning and nutrituion classes throughout the season. Stony Brook University will host gardening classes on site as well.
WHERE The Agriculture Center at Charnews Farm, 3005 Youngs Ave.
INFO 631-283-3195, peconiclandtrust.org
ELIGIBILITY All Long Island residents
COST $50, $80, $110
PLOTS 20 4-by-12-foot raised beds, 10 10-by-20-foot ground-level beds and 10 20-by-20-foot ground-level beds; no handicap-accessible beds availalbe
“We want to give people not just the space to grow a garden, but also the information they need to successfully grow a garden,” says Kathy Kennedy, outreach manager for Peconic Land Trust, of the organic garden that provides on-site compost for gardeners. The farm, which offers monthly educational programs, is shared by community gardeners, working farmers and beekeepers.
WHERE The Wyandanch Fresh Community Garden, 20 Andrews Ave., formerly 14th Street
ELIGIBILITY Preference to Wyandanch residents
PLOTS 20, includes 5-by-10-foot, 4-by-10-foot and 3-by-10-foot raised beds, no handicap-accessible beds available
Free seeds available while supplies last. Gardeners also can take part in gardening classes through the Growers Market of Copiague. While not certified organic, this garden does follow organic and sustainable practices.