Urban Agriculture Land Security, 12/2

Fence closed on empty lot

December 2nd

12 – 2pm

North Star Fund
520 8th Ave, suite 2203

Lunch will be served!

RSVP by 11/25

This is a funder-only event with invited guests.

[UPDATE: This event has been canceled with no future date planned]

Join us for a funder briefing on the issues of land access and security for urban agriculture. Foundations support urban farms and gardens and related programs for a variety of reasons – youth development, food access, environmental protection, and more – but no matter what the program goal, foundations want to see their grantees’ programs succeed. Without the land they depend on, none of these urban agriculture programs can continue, yet the obstacles to obtaining secure land (i.e. permanent protection of the resource) and secure tenure (i.e. assured access to the land) are seldom discussed.

There are a range of strategies funders can support to advance secure land tenure for urban agriculture, including:

  • Protection of land resources for existing gardens, through support for stewardship organizations, or funding critical expenses such as paying tax liens for threatened sites
  • Promotion of access to “new” land (public and private), including identification of appropriate sites, site remediation, and education of landowners or other partners
  • Pro bono legal help, including facilitation of lease and license negotiations and defense of threatened gardens
  • Advocacy to influence policy change, particularly around issues that endanger long-term stewardship

Come hear from our presenters who are working on these strategies and more.  This briefing is co-sponsored by Equity Trust and CFF’s Urban Agriculture Working Group.


  • Paula Z. Segal, Executive Director, 596 Acres, and Legal Director, NYC Community Land Access Program
  • Demetrice Mills, Board Member and Chairperson of the Garden Operations Committee, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust
  • Ray Figueroa, President of the Board of Directors, New York City Community Garden Coalition
  • Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director, New York City Community Garden Coalition


  • Jim Oldham, Director, Equity Trust
  • Johanna Rosen, Program Associate, Equity Trust

Photo courtesy of 596 Acres

More about the presenting organizations

596 Acres is New York City’s community land access advocacy organization. In addition to facilitating the neighbor-led creation of 32 new spaces on City owned land between 2011 and 2015, 596 Acres works on protecting legacy gardens from tax lien foreclosure, expanding land in community stewardship and transparency over the disposition of public assets. 596 Acres builds online tools that make information about public land legible and accessible and supports groups creating community land access tools in their own cities through open source code and hands-on mentorship.

Founded in 2004, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised of a 15-member Board of Directors, one part-time staff person, 34 garden representatives and 500+ community gardeners. Gardens now owned by BQLT date back more than four decades and have a long history of community organizing and advocacy. Most were originally on land left neglected during the financial crisis of the 1970s. Residents reclaimed these areas of urban blight through volunteer labor, converting vacant lots into thriving community gardens. In 1999, many of these spaces were put in jeopardy when the City planned to auction off community gardens. Gardeners organized to save their gardens from development. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) negotiated to save many of these gardens as permanent open spaces and established local land trusts to hold the deeds. Following a seven-year period of stewardship. TPL transferred the deeds for 32 community gardens to BQLT in December 2011. BQLT has since completed two independent land transactions: the first in 2013, motivated by the threat of foreclosure on a neighborhood lot in Jamaica, Queens, and the second in 2015, motivated by the pending loss of non-profit status for
an established garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. BQLT currently owns 34 community gardens – 27 gardens in Brooklyn and 7 in Queens. Under its new affiliate garden program, BQLT stewards two additional community gardens via lease arrangements with City agencies.

Founded in 1996, it is the mission of the New York City Community Garden Coalition to promote the preservation, creation, and empowerment of community gardens through education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing.

Equity Trust is a small, national non-profit organization committed to helping communities to gain ownership interests in land and other local resources, and to make economic changes that balance the needs of individuals with the needs of their communities, the earth, and future generations. For over twenty years, Equity Trust’s Farms for Farmers Program has developed and promoted strategies for protecting working farms to keep them affordable to farmers. In 2013, the organization launched two new initiatives: a Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program and Secure Land for Urban Agriculture, an exploration of the particular land tenure challenges faced by urban farms and gardens, and the strategies and partnerships that can address these challenges.

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