This half-acre plot of land in Woodside, New York is led and maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers from both the neighborhood and beyond. The revitalization project was initiated by two women in September 2017, Samantha Yeung and Elizabeth O'Connor, who had never met but both wanted to clean up the space and open it up to the community at large.
It was an urban jungle with 7-foot-tall Japanese knotweed on approximately 75 percent of the property. It took a lot of organizing, community involvement, and energy to clear out the space, tarp it to suppress this invasive weed, and then build what we see today: a vibrant community garden (51st Street 'Farmhouse' side) adjacent to a well-kept, preserved family cemetery (54th Street side).
From the start, we were fortunate to get a lot of guidance from those who already worked in the community like Bob Piazza (Woodside on the Move) and our Historian and Advisor, Richard Hourahan (previously of Queens Historical Society). The owners of the land, Queens Historical Society, have been champions of this project since its inception. We also received immeasurable support from GrowNYC. Not only did they link us up with corporate volunteer groups but they were instrumental in procuring our donated shed, lending tools and materials, and being all-around helpful in getting this off the ground (pun intended, they built the garden beds). And even though we were just starting out and only had ideas in place, Citizens Committee for New York City gave us grants and additional volunteers that helped make this become a reality. We'd also like to thank Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblyperson Brian Barnwell for their generous support of the project. We are also grateful for the support and cooperation from our neighbors adjacent to the property and local businesses like Rice x Beans who have donated food for our volunteers.
Elizabeth O'Connor and Samantha Yeung