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The Sixth Street and Avenue B Community Garden

6th and B garden Until the colonial era the site of the 6th & B Garden was a salt marsh, an arm of the East River. By the 1890's, the lower East Side had become home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, densely concentrated into dank, airless tenements, lacking adequate light, air, or green space. Throughout 1970's and early 80's many landlords abandoned their buildings. The corner of Sixth Street and Avenue B became occupied by deteriorating, vacant buildings used as shooting galleries by drug addicts then later became a large empty lot.

In 1982 a committee petitioned the City's Operation Green Thumb for a lease and began the arduous task of hauling rubble and trash from the 17,000 square foot site. Throughout 1983 they drew up plans, built 125 4' x 8' plots, laid pathways, prepared for the installation of a fence, and laid out ornamental borders. By April of 1984, Green Thumb had issued a one-year lease. The Garden established partnerships with the Green Guerrillas and the Trust for Public Land.

In 1985 The City, the Community Board, and some housing advocates who took the short-sighted view that the environment was secondary to bricks and mortar, maintained that the land should be sold at auction to the highest bidder. An aroused garden membership threw open the gates of the garden. Alliances were made with a local garden coalition and community planners. By 1986, the Community Board was forced to take a more flexible stance.

In 1996, a deal was worked out by the Trust for Public Land to give the garden permanent site status with NYC Parks Department as part of the City Spaces program.

Today the garden serves as an anchor of local community gardening groups and as a working model of preservation for an energetic greening movement.There are over 15 fruiting trees, more than 50 flowering shrubs and innumerable herbs, flowers and vegetables. There is a children's adventure playground and children's garden. Two hundred children utilize the garden weekly. The events program, now in its thirteenth year, runs all summer, and features over 75 events annually, The fence, also designed by garden members, represents their "hands-on" contributions in creating the garden.

(text and photo adapted from Sixth and Avenue B website)