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Empowering community gardens to mitigate climate change

“We believe this [study] adds a new metric to what community gardens can do, and that’s why this is such an important project. If it is successful, it can go citywide.”
– Aziz Dekhan, NYCCGC Executive Director



To prepare coastal zones of New York City for climate change, the Governor’s Office for Storm Recovery funded an initiative to strengthen the role of community gardens in climate adaptation. Our project examined the role of the Lower East Side’s community gardens as climate resilience infrastructure and how this approach might be applied to other neighborhoods throughout the City.


Community-centered approach
In partnership with WE Design as landscape architects and eDesign Dynamics for engineering services, 3×3 led the community research and engagement strategy to understand the needs and future potential of over 40 community gardens. Superstorm Sandy had flooded and severely impacted a majority of the gardens in 2012.



– Community workshop series
Iterative prototyping of an online and offline information sharing system for community gardens


Quantitative insights

– Costs, benefits, and impacts of proposed stormwater capture methods for community gardens

Mapping of opportunities for increased permeability and green space to absorb stormwater runoff
– Identification of locations where additional green infrastructure and stormwater capture systems could be implemented across the study area


Community insights

– Need for increased visibility and wayfinding
Additional resources for responsible rodent abatement
– Importance of garden communities as a factor in social resilience
– Overall, need for customized design solutions to meet unique garden features 



– Pioneering involvement of community members to shape strategy and feasibility recommendations, streamline communications and make decision-making process more inclusive and transparent

– Publishing of the Gardens Rising Feasibility Study as a culminating report of proposed projects for each garden and as a comprehensive neighborhood system

– Creation of a green infrastructure master plan for the Lower East Side

– Co-design of a community engagement strategy and communications hub to inform gardeners about the development and design process

– Launch of the Crowd Map website that enabled the project team to collect community feedback and share information in real time with the garden community, ensuring full transparency and an equal exchange of information and feedback

Project team

Megan Marini, Vanessa Monique Smith, Karine Sarkissian