A Look at the Summit Street Community Garden Site in the ’80s

A vacant lot at the corner of Summit and Columbia streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s

The corner of Summit and Columbia streets in the 1980s, before the lot was the Summit Street Community Garden. Photo from 80s.nyc

The  80s.nyc website is like a Google Street View that lets you glimpse into New York City’s past. Over a period of five years in the 1980s, the City of New York had every property in the five boroughs photographed for use by the city’s department of finance to estimate property taxes. These photos are compiled on 80s.nyc and organized  into a searchable map view.  Since these photos were of taxable property, vacant lots were photographed as well, so many sites of the current community gardens were also photographed. Check out the corner of Summit and Columbia streets, current home to the Summit Street Community Garden, in the 1980s.

A vacant lot at the corner of Columbia and Summit streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s

This is what the Summit Street Community Garden site looked like in the 1980s. Photo from 80s.nyc

Of course, the founding members of the Summit Street Community Garden remember this lot. As documented on the garden’s history page, in 1993, neighborhood residents began moving trash and rubble out of the lot, which was then approved  for a lease as a community garden from GreenThumb in 1994. Here are a few more recent photos of the corner of Summit and Columbia streets today.

While looking through the 80s.nyc website, you might see some other familiar community garden sites.

The corner of Van Brunt and Hamilton in Brooklyn in the 1980s

The corner of Van Brunt Street and Hamilton Avenue, where the Backyard Garden is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

An empty lot at the corner of Van Brunt and President streets in the 1980s.

The corner of Van Brunt and President streets, where the Urban Meadow is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

An empty lot at the corner of Sackett and Columbia streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s.

Sackett and Columbia streets, where the Human Compass Garden is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

To learn more about the origins of NYC community gardens, check out the WNYC  story about New York City’s first community garden, which now bears the name of Liz Christy, founder of the Green Guerillas. In 1973, Christy decided to brighten up an abandoned Lower East Side corner lot at Bowery and Houston Street and enlisted volunteers to haul out trash and debris, lay down topsoil, install fencing, and put in plants. Five years later, GreenThumb began, and this program is how more than 600 community gardens in New York City exist today.




Thank You for Supporting the Tag & Bake Sale

The Summit Street Community Garden with a table of baked goods and iced tea.

Baked goods at the Summit Street Garden Fall Tag & Bake Sale.

Thank you to all the members of the community who bought baked goods and tag sale items from our fall fundraiser on Sunday, September 20! With your helped, we raised money to beautify the garden and buy supplies. We also always enjoy the opportunity to talk to our neighbors and eat baked goods!


Carrot cake decorated with frosting carrots

The carrot cake and blueberry yogurt cake went really fast. but we managed to snap this photo before digging in.

Stuffed animals sitting in baby chairs.

Some stuffed animals modeled the baby furniture for sale.

Stuffed animals for sale

Stuffed animals awaiting their new homes.

Farewell to the Forsythia

The forsythia blooming in 2013.

For many years, the blooming of the forsythia heralded the arrival of spring at the Summit Street Community Garden. However, after several seasons of decline, it became clear that the forsythia wasn’t going to recover and bloom again.  Shawn cut down the forsythia this Saturday. “It’s time to say goodbye to a plant that’s been a beautiful part of the garden for a long time,” says Claire.

Gardener removing a forsythia

Cut-down forsythia branches

Forsythia branches

A forsythia blooming in a community garden with daffodils along a brick path

The forsythia’s vibrant blooms provided contrast with the pale yellows of the early daffodils in 2014.

Summer Solstice at the Summit Street Community Garden

Peach galette

Peach galette. Photo: Sondra Fink

The Summit Street Community gardeners kicked off the season June 21 with a solstice celebration. About 24 members of all ages showed up to share foods that evoked the summer: deep red borcht served with sunny hard-boiled egg halves, grilled rum pineapple slices topped with ice cream, bright seasonal strawberries, flaky peach galette, and other delicious fare. Both longtime and new members had a chance to socialize in the garden, and some of the youngest members played in the children’s area, a box designated this year for play and discovery. Check out some of the photos below!

Community gardeners eating under a grape arbor

Gardeners gathered for a solstice feast under the arbor. Photo: Claire Merlino


Gardener Amy made a deep red borscht to celebrate the solstice. Photo: Sondra Fink

Hard-boiled eggs, cut so the yolks show

The borscht was served with hard-boiled eggs, which looked like little suns. Photo: Sondra Fink

Grilled pineapple topped with ice cream and rum sauce

Gardener Claire made grilled pineapple served with ice cream and rum sauce. Photo: Sondra Fink

Strawberries and grapes

Fresh fruit was served to celebrate the arrival of summer. Photo: Sondra Fink

A garden member in front of a table with fruit.

The solstice gathering gave a chance to both new and long-time members to enjoy the garden. Photo: Sondra Fink

A boy and his dad in the community garden

Some of the youngest garden members (and their parents) had a chance to garden and play as well. Photo: Sondra Fink

Community garden members and children playing in the children's garden box

Summit Street Community Garden members got some gardening in, while some young members played in the new children’s box. Photo: Sondra Fink

Children digging in a community garden plot with someone holding a worm

The Summit Street Community Garden has a box dedicated for children’s play and discovery this season. Young gardeners at the solstice celebration were delighted to find a worm. Photo: Sondra Fink

A gardener eating watermelon.

Gardener Sondra enjoys some seasonal fruit. Photo: Claire Merlino

Gardeners hanging out in the Summit Street Community Garden.

Gardeners hanging out in the Summit Street Community Garden. Photo: Sondra Fink

Summer Solstice 2017 in the Garden

Weather permitting, there will be a Summer Solstice celebration of the longest day of the year on June 21 from 5:30 pm onward at the garden. This potluck celebration is a casual affair, so if you’d like to attend, just show up with something to share or grill. In the event of rain, the event will be cancelled, though it looks like we’ll have a nice, sunny day. 

Speaking of sun, the plan is for midsummer-appropriate foods that evoke the sun (think: yellow, orange, red, round), as well as seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs. Gardener Sondra, who headed up the celebration this year and last year, says, “The Solstice is also a traditional fire festival, so grilling is on point!” Check out photos of last year’s solstice potluck.


Thanks for Supporting the 2017 Spring Tag Sale

slices of tomato tart

This tomato tart was the hit of the tag and bake sale.

Despite a cool, overcast day, the tag sale May 21 raised some funds for garden upkeep and maintenance! Thank you to all the gardeners who supplied items and baked goods and who helped out by setting up tables, selling items and doing end-of-day pack-up. And of course, thank you to community members who came by and purchased items for a good cause! Gardeners who participated in the tag sale had fun hanging out and meeting people in the community.

chocolate chip cookies

I didn’t take too many photos, because I was helping with the baked goods table, meaning I was eating most of the baked goods. I sampled one of everything and can report that it was all good, from the beautiful carrot cake to the cookies made with fresh ginger. The tomato tart made with fresh herbs from the Summit Street Community Garden was a big hit this year.In fact, most of the first tart was consumed within minutes of its unveiling.

We hope to see you at our next tag sale is Saturday, September 16 from 10 am–3 pm!chalk sidewalk sign outside a bank encouraging people to get cash and come to the community garden tag sale
tomato tart with tomato plant

Summit Street Spring Tag Sale Fundraiser, Saturday, May 20, 2017

Baked goods.

Summit Street Community Garden Tag & Bake Sale
corner of Summit and Columbia streets
Saturday, May 20 from 10 am–3 pm

The Summit Street Community Garden is having its annual spring tag and bake sale fundraiser. Stop by to peruse items for sale, including seasonal clothing, jewelry, music, books, children’s clothing and toys, household items and accessories and more! We’ll also have a variety of baked goods and iced tea. All proceeds go toward supplies, maintenance and plants to beautify the garden.

The Ethel Merman Disco Album!

A happy baby at the fall garden tag sale.

A happy baby at the fall garden tag sale.

Important 2017 Garden Dates

On Friday, the weather was so perfect it felt like a crime to be inside (especially since I am not returning to work post-surgery until Monday), so I started on the summer-long path weeding project and continued with that on Saturday morning. Many people enjoying the weather stopped by and several asked a few questions. If you are a new visitor to the garden, please feel free to ask questions of the garden member present, such as: Are dogs welcome? (Yes, if they are on a leash!) Also feel free to check out our FAQ section.

One of the most commonly asked questions is: How can I become a member? The answer is: Simply attend a garden meeting for an orientation! Once you accept the invitation to the Google group, you can sign up for garden hours. For more details of membership, including how to sign up for a garden plot, please visit our membership FAQ.

Garden meetings are at 11 am, followed by workdays. Meetings are scheduled for the following days: Saturday, May 13
Sunday, June 11
Saturday, July 8
Saturday, September 9
Sunday, October 15

On Sunday, August 13, there will be a workday with no meeting.

The garden has two tag and bake sale fundraisers slated for 2017.  On Saturday, May 20, the first tag and bake sale will take place from 10 am–3 pm. The second fundraiser will happen on Saturday, September 16, 10 am–3 pm.

Please visit the community garden, open to all when the gate is open. We look forward to seeing you this season!

A Katie Heath daffodil with a pink center, instead of the usual yellow or orange.


Ladybugs in the garden. If you saw me in the garden this weekend, it may have looked as if I was talking to them. But I was actually talking to the worms, mostly apologies for relocating them as I unearthed them while weeding the path.

Greenland tulips

Greenland tulips.

Red and green parrot hybrid tulips

Red and green parrot hybrid tulips.



More April Garden Photos

Please smell the lilacs while they are in bloom.

An overcast day like today is perfect for enjoying the brilliant spring blooms in the community garden. (I am recovering from surgery so I took my doctor-ordered walk down to the garden to take some photos to capture the spring flowers.) Make sure you smell the lilacs while they are still in bloom. Even the boxwood planter by the garden patio is sporting a festive grape hyacinth.

A grape hyacinth and a boxwood.

Before the grape arbor fills in, a small grape hyacinth in the boxwood planter provides a grape-shaped preview.

Various types of daffodils are in bloom in the borders.

The curled petals of these red and white tulips are particularly striking. Also note that the allium around the garden are coming up.

Red and white tulips with curled petals, with allium in the background.

Red and white tulips with curled petals, with allium in the background.

Even as the later spring flowers start to bud, visitors can still see some of the early spring flowers, such as the hellebores.

Take time to look for some of the wild violets in bloom around the garden.

Wild violet.

One of the garden’s wild violets.

I was pleasantly surprised by some new blooms in my plot.

Tulips and daffodils.

Tulips and daffodils.

More Ivory Floradale Hybrid Tulips and pink and white pastel tulips came up. The pink and white tulips look like they would taste like strawberries and cream. I regularly resist the urge to eat them.

Ivory Floradale Hybrid and pastel tulips.

Ivory Floradale Hybrid and pastel tulips.

There are also more red tulips with yellow edges.

Red and yellow tulips.

Red and yellow tulips.

These Greenland tulips were a nice surprise. I think they are left over bulbs from a previous spring.

Greenland tulips.

Greenland tulips.

A peach tulip in my plot is also likely a bulb from a previous spring.

Peach tulip.

Peach tulip.

Daffodils are blooming among the Princess Irene tulips, which are deep red with purple flames. I think these are Prosecco daffodils, though the pink-hued Katie Heath daffodils also should be showing up soon.

Prosecco (or possibly Katie Heath) daffodils among the Princess Irene tulips, which are deep red with purple flames.

Prosecco (or possibly Katie Heath) daffodils among the Princess Irene tulips, which are deep red with purple flames.

The Pipit daffodils with bright yellow edges and white centers also are in bloom.

Pipit daffodils with tulips in the background.

Pipit daffodils with tulips in the background.

Lilies of the valley, sent by my mom from her garden, are about to flower.

Lilies of the valley.

Lilies of the valley.

Hosta shoots are emerging. I had dismissed hostas as kind of boring plants, but now that I have the shady side of the box to care for, I’ve embraced the shade-loving plants. (I know there are plenty of hosta enthusiasts out there; I think my attitude stems from growing up with a shady yard and always having an abundance of hostas.) As some flowers prepare to finish for the season, some summer plants are just emerging.

Hosta shoots.

Hosta shoots.

Hosta shoots.

Hosta shoots.

Hosta shoots.

Hosta shoot. I hope this is the giant I transplanted last year.