PlantTherapy: LaGuardia Community Garden

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On a recent morning, passing by from Houston St. to the West Village

LaGuardia began in 1974 as a community vegetable garden on a lot just below Washington Square Park that was owned by The Jewish Cultural Center. When the land was sold in 1980 the community garden was forced to either dissolve or move. With the help of GreenThumb they found a new location just as the bulldozers were arriving. It was only one block away and they have been there now for more than 25 years.

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The garden is in front of a grocery store, in an area that would be a parking lot if it were the suburbs. Once you step inside the garden engulfs you, and one can quickly forget the city - no easy feat. Vegetables are a rare sight now, with most people choosing to plant flowers. Around the paths there are signs of the many hands that work together - a small birdbath, a potted plant waiting to be planted, a little metal turtle. One person was tending his vegetable plot (the last remaining), another had just finished planting butterfly bushes, and yet another was busy taking photos of his roses while his dogs enjoyed the shade.

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Everyone was watchful, yet friendly, and quick to talk about their gardening. Sarah Jones, who is the garden chairperson, stopped watering her plot to welcome me and talk about the history of their garden. Plants, and the efforts of those who plant them, can be easily trod upon. By taking time to talk with visitors and opening their garden to all they are helping the garden live on, be understood, and become a vital part of their community. That is quite a task to accomplish in an area where NYU could swallow you up in a heartbeat.

matt at apartment therapy dot com

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.