A guide for design-
Name of the Initiative
DE COLORES COMMUNITY YARD GARDEN
What do they do? (Description of service idea, e.g. a community garden,
a food coop, etc). What are the demands/problems this initiative responds
to? What is the aim of the initiative? What happens and how does it
happens? What benefits does it bring to the neighborhood?
The De Colores Community Yard and Garden is a community
garden shared by fifty members to grow their own flowers, plants,
fruits, and vegetables. The purpose of the garden is for the
members to have a fresh green space to spend time in and to
sustainably produce their own plants. The garden is an escape from
the harsh city sounds and polluted air, for the greenery brings the
chirping of birds and the breeze of cleansed air. Anyone is welcome
to come and relax in the garden whenever any of the gardeners are
there, usually being on the weekends. Anyone can become a
member of the garden as well by just paying $30 a year.
What is this neighborhood like? How was it before this new solution took
The garden lies in the heart of Alphabet City, on E. 8th St. place to
between Avenue B and C. The neighborhood now is a very desirable
live filled with cool restaurants and cafes, shops, and of course
beautiful community gardens. Families, young students, working
adults, and elderly live in the area and there seems to be seems to be
something for everyone. Back in the 1990’s however, Alphabet City
was infested with drug addicts and crime. During this time it was a
very dangerous place filled with abandoned buildings and limited
public services so the demand to live in the area was significantly
lower. The community gardens actually started springing up before
the improvement of Alphabet City's neighborhoods so they may have
been the beginning of positive change and encouragement for the
area to be reborn.
1.3 History of the initiative
How did the project/initiative start? Who took the initiative? Why?
Can you describe a timeline of events, highlighting success and failure aspects,
major milestones? How far can you go back? How did this initiative mature? How did
it turn to be a real enterprise? (registered, formalized etc.) Did it receive public or
private support of any kind? Did it help change the public or policy structure?
-10 original founders
-Found open plot and decided to start cleaning it up; established
-1996- Guliani tried to get rid of the community gardens in the
LES but De Colores was saved (garden space across the street
was taken during this time)
-The garden space is owned by the government so the members'
could lose the garden at any time
-The fee of $30/year for members to keep the place running
-The Green Guerillas got involved to help establish the garden;
Green Thumb is now the supporting organization
1.4 Main actors
Who are the users of this initiative? Who are the promoters of this initiative? Is there a
difference between users and promoters or are they basically the same? Describe users
and promoters lifestyles?
Do the users work as a group or groups? Is there a network of related organizations and/
or individuals? Do they have any form of connection or exchange with other similar
initiatives? Was the group inspired by other examples? Do you know counter examples,
(of service ideas that did not take-off), cases that went wrong?
-Currently 50 members that use the gardens; many members and
their families/kids come and garden together
-There are 10 founders, they personally know all the members
-The founders promote the garden with a bit of advertising on
front of fence
-Primary promotion through word of mouth
-Many of the members are artists, actors, musicians, and bar
-The garden has a stage that they have put on shows before on; a
dance party was supposed to happen on May 1 but due to the
construction it was cancelled
What are the technologies that the group uses? How are they
used in system?
-Attempted to install water pump into garden so garden would
have access to water; construction is still in process
What communication materials do the group have? (e.g.
website, brochures, postcards, etc). What is the main purpose
of these materials? e.g. to keep participants updated about
activities (internal communication) or to get more participants
(external communication)? Does the group want to have more
-Garden has a website that is minimally used and not quite up to
-Also some information can be found in:
-Most communication is done through conversation amongst the
-They place announcements on the fence
-The Green Program do part of the advertisements locally, with
posters and announcements in other gardens
-The Green Gorilla’s originally helped with the initiative but now its
more the members are the ones defending and spreading the word
1.7. Perspective for the future
What are the perspective/objectives of the group for the next
3-5 years? What are some of the success factors and possible
risks in the short medium and long term?
-Founders of the garden don’t know what will happen to the Garden in
September. The constantly changing law may cause the garden to not
be legally occupied, the law that protects the community garden by
ends in September
-Members feel it would be great to keep the space if only just for the
luxury of feeling removed from the city in a beautiful area of nature
1.8. Problems and opportunities
Are there any specific issues/problems/barriers that pose
threats to the initiative? Are there any main areas of concern
among the participants (leaders and users alike)? Are there any
opportunities that could be explored (that are currently not
-The construction taking place to install a water system has been put
on hold, and is keeping the garden from being open to the major
-There is problem with the rats eating the plants and infesting the area
-The foundation of the garden plot was never fully cleansed so the soil
is dirty and unhealthy; there is still rubble under all the plants so most
fruits or vegetables grown are not very safe to eat
-Political issues are also threatening the garden
1.9. Indications of other social innovation
Do the users participate in other entrepreneurial endeavors? Do they form
small initiatives on their own? Are members involved in other
“sustainable” services within the community? (Ex. Food Co-op,
carpooling, community gardens, etc)? Do you see evidence of wider
networks that these users contribute to?
The users of De Colores Community Yard are neighbors from the
Alphabet City who all know each other. But they do not form any
initiatives on their own. The garden does not engage in any
entrepreneurial endeavors and there are no official other
“sustainable” services within the community in which the
members are involved.
Website of the initiative
Interviewee name and contact information (email, address, phone
Other references (websites, articles, other people we should talk to)
East 8th Street between
Avenues B & C
Member Contact Information
Elizabeth Rufmeldo – 917 916 8529
Charles - 917 514 2917
Quantitative Data Exercise
-There are 50 members in total, 10 are the founders of the initiative.
Many members are active in the garden and participate in events.
-The size of the garden is small (1000 square feet approx), so
individual spaces are roughly 10 square feet.
- One Stage, which hosts Halloween parties, Spring parties, and