April Greene


Ever wonder what’s behind the gates of that community garden you pass on your way to work?

Love city life, but long for a way to spend more in nature?

Want to get to know your neighbors beyond exchanging hellos?

BQLT gardeners celebrate under a sign reading “Alternative Therapy is a Garden” (photo credit Sara Nogueira)

Community gardens provide urban residents with a refuge where they can relax outdoors, grow their own fresh produce inexpensively, hold community events, and much more. These small open spaces have a big reputation for bringing together neighbors of all ages and backgrounds, thereby strengthening the social fabric of communities and making them healthier, safer, and greener.

The nonprofit Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT) owns over 30 community gardens in NYC’s two most populous boroughs. Sprinkled among 20 different neighborhoods, these gardens cannot be sold, and are permanently saved from development as open, public space.

Visitors explore a garden on a previous BQLT tour

On Saturday, September 15, BQLT will hold its 7th Annual Bike & Walking Tour. This year, it’s all about Bushwick!: a neighborhood known for its activism, where residents have banded together for decades to transform vacant, trash-strewn lots into thriving public green spaces. Come out to celebrate their accomplishments and learn how you can support your own local community garden.

Tour participants will meet at 1:30 pm at Concerned Citizens of Grove Street Community Garden (72 Grove between Bushwick & Evergreen), founded way back in 1981. They’ll check in, pick up a free BQLT water bottle, and enjoy the block party that will also be in progress. (BQLT t-shirts will also be on offer for a donation of $10 or more.)

Bikers enter a garden on a previous BQLT tour

Just before 2 p.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will give a brief welcome, then bikers and walkers will split into groups to start their guided tours of select neighborhood gardens. Garden representatives will share interesting info about their spaces and highlight their best features—including lots of clucking chickens! Participants will learn about how community gardens work, and how to get involved if they’re interested in joining one. 

At 5 p.m., the tours will conclude at The People’s Garden (1237-1241 Broadway at Greene Ave), also founded in 1981. Garden lovers will mingle and enjoy delicious plant-based Dominican snacks catered by Woke Foods ($5 suggested donation) and music by Haiti Cultural Exchange and Bushwick native Ricky Quiñones. The event ends at 7 p.m., so you still have your Saturday night free. Win-win!

Live music at a previous BQLT tour (photo credit Sara Nogueira)

The whole event is free and open to all, though BQLT will be gratefully accepting donations to help keep its community gardens going strong.

See you in the garden!


For more info or to RSVP, go to:

bqlttour.eventbrite.com or BQLT’s website

If you’d like to volunteer at the event, contact BQLT Program Associate Domica Roberts at 718-963-7020 or [email protected].

Full disclosure: The author of this story serves on BQLT’s board of directors.