Planting the Seeds of Our Garden…
The Hollenback Community Garden began in 1980, through the hard work and dedication of community members who saw possibility in a lot rendered empty by the fire that destroyed the Hollenback Mansion. Brick by brick, and wheel barrow by wheel barrow they cleaned up the site and then seed by seed, they created beauty from destruction. During the Guiliani Administration in the late 1990s, Hollenback was one of the gardens saved by the Trust for Public Land (TPL). In 2011, TPL turned the deed for Hollenback over to the local Brooklyn Queens Land Trust.
Who are we?
We are currently about 40 gardeners, each working in individual plots as well as sharing responsibility for communal areas used by the garden membership and the larger community. Our garden is part of the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, a coalition of 34 community gardens. To read more, check out our By Laws and Membership Commitment
What do we do?
☼ The garden is a place for garden members from the community to produce locally grown food
☼ The gardeners preserve a flourishing green oasis for the community (everyone from neighbors to the butterflies, bees and birds) to visit and enjoy, contributing to overall neighborhood beautification. Just outside of our gates, we also have two Welcome Gardens that were selected by Brooklyn Botanical Garden as the best Community Garden Streetscape in their 2009 Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest. Check out our ever growing list of plant diversity at Hollenback. When we can we also try to plant flowers in the tree pits on our block of Washington Avenue.
☼ We make all garden decisions democratically at monthly meetings
☼ Hollenback offers several community events every season, including live music, movies, BBQs, garden workshops, and tours
☼ Gardeners strive to deepen and share their gardening knowledge and experience
Sustainablility in the Garden
☼ Our garden harvests rainwater from a neighboring rooftop, and stores it in a 700 gallon tank. This reduces both our use of potable water and the amount of rainwater that goes into the city’s overworked sewer system. You can find more information on rainwater harvesting in the city from the Water Resources Group. To read an informative article from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on rainwater harvesting, check out “Rainwater Harvesting”
☼ Composting at Hollenback: Our perspective is that we can provide an alternate system of organic waste management to our community. Organic materials that go to waste in landfills, produce methane gas and other pollutants that can leech into the soil. At Hollenback we seek to enable the natural decomposition process, which is safer for the environment – we seek to harness a valuable resource instead of wasting one.
The Hollenback Community Garden was proud to have been part of the Fort Greene Compost Project, a network of gardens that promoted solid waste reduction by collecting approximately 500 pounds of household food waste each Saturday from the Fort Greene Park Greenmarket. We combined that collected material with garden plant waste, local brewery waste, local landscaping waste and cafe coffee grounds, to produce valuable soil amendment.
The compost we produce is used in our garden and neighborhood tree pits, and by community members. We believe strongly in our composting system, not only for its production of rich, organic fertilizer but for enabling us to do our part in making our community more environmentally viable.
Our compost system has been used as a working educational model by the Master Composting Class from The Lower Eastside Ecology Center, as well as by GreenThumb, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the Queens Botanical Garden and several workshops, other community gardens & public school classes. Our compost has even been featured on Japanese television. For more information about composting in NY, check out The New York City Composting Project
Read a NY Times article about food waste, from May 18, 2008 – “One Country’s Table Scraps, Another Country’s Meal
☼ In 2007, we installed a composting toilet in our garden. This unit allows us to provide restroom facilities for visitors and gardeners, without having to depend on the non-sustainable, chemical, and costly involvement of a rented port-o-potty. Our composting toilet processes human waste and converts it into organic compost and fertile soil. Click here for more details on how it works. We hope that the presence of the composting toilet will serve as a further platform for our garden, and our community, to learn more ways to harness every resource we can when it comes to supporting our planet from the strain we place upon it. Our deepest gratitude to the Battery Park City Conservancy and the Park Avenue Building Supply for their time and efforts in helping us succeed in this project. To read a brief history of all the people who came together to bring this toilet to the garden, click here. We unveiled the toilet on May 10, 2008.
To learn more about composting humanure…
- Read author Catherine Price‘s series on the current “humanure” movement
- Watch videos about Humanure, created by Joseph Jenkins
Highlights of the Summer
- Highlights of the 2010 Season
- Highlights of the 2009 Season
- Highlights of the 2008 Season
- Highlights of the 2007 Season
In 2007, we lost a dear friend and a founding member of the garden, Ms. Gertrude Jefferson. We miss you, Gertrude.
Visitors are Welcome!
☼ Any time the front gate is open, please come in for a visit. Stop in, smell and admire the flowers, talk to gardeners, sit and read or just relax in the shade. Bring your family and your sketchbook. Share your knowledge and your questions.
☼ Respect the hard work of all the gardeners by not picking any fruits, vegetables or flowers. Also make sure to let them know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated.
☼ To get more information,offer input, inquire about membership, see about holding an event, join our mailing list, find out how you can help, learn about community events, ask a question, or make a request, you can reach the garden steering committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Local Locals: Lorne, from The Local, May 27, 2010
- Where Mansion Fell, A Garden Thrives by Calvin Men, from The Local (the Clinton Hill blog from the New York Times), September 22nd, 2009
- Brooklyn Community Gardens Inspire Visitors from 4 Continents by Kate Daloz in The Brooklyn Eagle, May 14th, 2008
- Tree-huggers Are Green With Envy Over This Toilet by Trevor Soponis, from the Brooklyn Paper, October 13th, 2007
- Community Gardens Pick Up Where The City Leaves Off by Charlie Bayrer from State Senator Velmanette Montgomery’s Newsletter – March 2007
- A short video about our composting toilet by NYU journalism student, Marshall Bel
- An article about Hollenback and the Ft. Greene community composting program, by Laura Silver
- A video podcast, Inside the Green Latrine, by Gersh Kuntzman in the Brooklyn Paper
- ☼ Brooklyn Queens Land Trust
- ☼ EarthMatter
- ☼ Brooklyn Bears Community Gardens
- ☼ The Woodbine Block Association Garden
- ☼ The Trust for Public Land
- ☼ Green Guerillas
- ☼ Just Food
- ☼ Greenthumb
- ☼ New Yorkers for Parks
- ☼ Grow NYC (formerly Council on the Environment)
- ☼ Brooklyn Botanical Garden
- ☼ Urban Studio Brooklyn
- ☼ The Lower Eastside Ecology Center
- ☼ Greater Newark Conservancy
- ☼ Flatbush Gardener
- ☼ Sustainable Pratt
- ☼ New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Office of Community Gardens
- ☼ 6/15 Green Community Garden
- ☼ Nowtopia: A New Politics of Work
- ☼ Sweet Freedom Farm
Additional Garden and Community Resources