Thursday, March 11, 2010
Mapping Community Gardens
This week I attended a meeting about mapping community gardens - an interest of mine for the past 10 years. I created, managed and nurtured the New York City Community Garden Mapping Project for GrowNYC, the organization formerly known as Council on the Environment. We have collected the information and maintained the GIS shape files and database for what started as about 850 gardens and now is about 500 gardens. Currently an intern is updating all of the information and OASIS (Open Accessible Spaces Information System) the web platform that is the server for the maps has just released version 2.0. The group that held the meeting, The Food Systems Network is very interested in using mapping tools to spatially represent all kinds of information and analysis of New York City's Food systems. Mapping technology has changed drastically in 10 years; we now have Google Earth and all kinds of mashups. I presented the story of the early days of mapping community gardens to the ESRI User conference in 2001. Having the OASIS platform has helped to make the community garden mapping we have done in New York City a great resource. Other cities have mapping applications on websites as well. In 2006, I wrote a paper "Show Your Gardens to the World" that highlighted some of the best efforts at that time. It was also an attempt to set in motion, the mapping of all of the gardens in North America. ACGA has taken the next step in a collaborative effort with Urban Harvest that invites community gardeners to list their gardens in a mapping application on the ACGA website. A lot more can be done to map all of the gardens in North America. It would take a major research effort but I think it would be valuable in many ways. It might even answer the question, How many community gardens are there?