Improving Sustainable Practices at Java Street Community Garden 2019-06-05T19:06:32+00:00

Project Description

Improving Sustainable Practices at Java St. Community Garden

2014 Project Lead: Java Street Community Garden
2014 Project Partners: GreenThumb NYC; Build It Green!NYC; GrowNYC; Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s GreenBridge; and In Our Backyards
2015 Project Lead: North Brooklyn Parks Alliance (formerly Open Space Alliance)
2015 Project Partners: GreenThumb NYC; Build It Green!NYC; Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s GreenBridge; MillionTrees NYC; New Yorkers for Parks; North Brooklyn Neighbors (formerly Neighbors Allied for Good Growth); Citizens Committee for New York City; and Solar Energy Systems
Project Location: 59 Java Street
2014 GCEF Grant: $19,178
2014 Matching Contribution: $10,620
2015 GCEF Grant: $30,220
2015 Matching Contribution: $0
Fact Sheet: Java Street Garden PDF
Project Status: Ongoing

In 2014, Java Street Community Garden received a $19,178 GCEF grant (and provided $10,620 in matching funds) to enhance the sustainability of the community garden. This New York City GreenThumb garden, once an empty lot and now covered with vegetable garden plots, is managed by a collective of 30 neighborhood volunteers. GCEF funding is being used to add a rainwater garden and stormwater collection system, a perennial sidewalk garden, sheltered community gathering space, native plants, and solar panels to serve as a renewable energy source for the garden.

In 2015, Java Street Community Garden received an additional $30,220 in GCEF funding (via the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance) to expand sustainable gardening activities throughout the year. Major activities funded by this additional grant include:

  • Creating a winter greenhouse
  • Improving existing pollinator, woodland, rainwater, and other garden beds within the larger garden
  • Improving compost management
  • Labeling plants in beds with information about pollinators, birds, noxious weeds, and sustainable garden practices
  • Improving composting and garden waste management
  • Providing environmental stewardship and gardening education for garden visitors and members

August 2015:Two solar panels and an energy storage system have been installed at the garden, and a maintenance shed completed by adding siding, a door with a lock, plexiglass panels, and interior organization. In addition, three raised beds for organic vegetables have been built, benches and a picnic table for garden events have been constructed using reclaimed wood, and 64 cubic feet of compost has been produced. Outside the garden, perennials and native plants have been planted in the sidewalk garden, along with signage to educate passersby about perennials and native plant types, and benches have been added to allow community members to enjoy the garden when it is closed. The garden’s solar energy system is close to completion. Additional future project activities include completing the rainwater collection system.

August 2016: In the spring, the garden continued to improve sustainable practices through partnership development, responsible resource management, and community engagement. The garden hosted a street tree care workshop in conjunction with Trees NY, and three demonstrations of how to brew compost tea with the Greenpoint Bioremediation Project. Garden volunteers completed the rainwater collection system, rain barrels that will store 600 gallons of water for use in the garden. Volunteers also created compost, grew 600 square feet of organic vegetables, started a garden library with 25 books, and hosted their second annual ‘Spring into Summer’ party which drew 75 attendees. Previously installed solar panels continuously generated solar energy to power garden activities.

August 2017:Java Street Garden replaced a portion of their raised beds with cedar quadrants; the impact has been significant, allowing members to enjoy more robust raised beds for the growing season. The garden successfully partnered with Eco-Schools and NYC Tree to plant four apple trees. They laid foundations for the trellises that will support the trees, which will be trained to grow up along the bare wall of the building that abuts the garden. The garden hosted their annual ‘Spring into Summer’ BBQ which drew 150 attendees. A gutter on the garden shed was installed to divert rainwater into higher capacity water barrels.

February 2018: Approximately, 25 active members worked together to plant, harvest, and maintain both their own individual raised beds as well as the raised beds shared by all members of the garden. In October 2017, the garden hosted the second of its two annual free community events: the fall event was attended by more than 75 members of the neighborhood. The garden also hosted approximately five demonstrations of the compost tea brewing system to educate those interested in the uses and benefits of compost tea as well as to teach them how the system works. A trellis was built and installed, and garden volunteers have begun to espalier (train) four apple trees.

August 2018: Garden volunteers have continued working to improve the sustainable practices underway at the garden. In early spring, new raised beds were built using long-lasting cedar wood to replace the previous ones made of pressure treated lumber which were beginning to deteriorate after six years of use. In June, garden volunteers marked the start of summer with the popular “Spring Into Summer” party, which brought many adults and children into the garden to see its latest enhancement, and enjoy complimentary food and drink along with children’s craft activities. Later in the summer, work was done to support the installation of an additional solar panel to provide more electricity for the garden, particularly from late fall through early spring. Over the course of the summer, work has also been done to design a website that will provide information about the garden, along with a list of upcoming activities and information on how to become involved. Design work has nearly been completed and development of the website’s content is currently under way.

February 2019: The Java Street Community Garden’s existing solar energy system was expanded with the installation of an additional photovoltaic panel and an upgrade of the existing solar controller, allowing the system to integrate the new panel and run more efficiently. The replacement of the garden’s old planters with new, doubled-height cedar wood planters was completed in April, allowing for easier maintenance and increased planting depth. The Garden also hosted Greenpoint Eco-Schools and TreesNY for a workshop on apple tree maintenance. Children helped to care for the trees that were planted two years ago by another Eco-Schools group.


Java Street Community Garden to Ring in Summer (Greenpoint Gazette, June 11, 2015)