Little-known, and hidden between skyscrapers and wide avenues, some 650 community gardens dot New York City. Set within one of the densest and most expensive real estate markets, these gardens are attended by some of the least advantaged residents of the city. Urban residents use these spaces for horticulture, recreation, social gatherings, and artistic and cultural events. They manage the gardens collectively and with relative independence from top-down control. Despite continuous threats from market forces the gardens have been able to thrive as significant community spaces since the 1970s. This book shows how, in the process of attempting to protect these highly contested spaces, residents developed as community leaders and urban activists. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to follow the political development of urban residents, the book examines how everyday spatial practices, social interactions, the production of alternative urban space, and the generation of new urban knowledge render community gardeners into important social actors in the urban scene. The book argues that with this process of production of space a new type of ’organic resident’ evolves. These urbanites constantly engage with their urban environment, find ways to make the city more supportive for their collective needs, and produce the city in their own image. Community gardeners as organic residents claim their right to the city, act to materialize their vision of the city, and utilize the special potential of the locale to constitute themselves as powerful social actors on the urban scene.
'The strength of this book lies […] in its scholarship about the historical development of community gardens… Recommended.' Choice 'From the Ground Up is a well-researched investigation of a topic that, until now, has received mostly article-length treatment: the politics of community gardens in New York City. This in-depth study provides much more detail into the personal, communal, and urban politics of the community garden movement in New York than has previously been available, and is therefore a welcome addition to scholarly knowledge on the subject. … The book is a useful resource for teaching on urban politics, and for researchers interested in the various politics of community gardens.' Journal of Regional Science 'From the Ground Up is a rich book full of illustrative insights into the world of community gardening in New York City'. Geography Research Forum ’From the Ground Up makes an important contribution to our understanding of the reasons for, and the importance of; the community gardening movement in New York City … and the valuable role the movement plays in promoting citizen participation and political development in a diverse metropolitan area. It is recommended reading for scholars interested in both community gardening and community development'. Marie Howland,University of Maryland, College Park, MD