The Neighborhood Gardens Trust plays a critical role in preserving, protecting and promoting community gardening throughout Philadelphia. In the 1970s and 1980s, Philadelphia neighborhoods were struggling with the blighting influence of vacant, trash-filled lots. Concerned neighbors worked to transform these lots into gardens as a way to take back their neighborhoods and beautify them. In most cases, the land was owned not by the gardeners but by the city or private (often tax-delinquent) owners. After years of caring for the land, some gardeners lost their gardens to development. A partnership that included the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), the Penn State Urban Gardening Program, local business representatives and community gardeners saw a need to preserve community gardens. As a result, in 1986, the Neighborhood Gardens Association / A Philadelphia Land Trust (NGA) was incorporated.
The organization has since acquired and preserved more than 30 gardens, ranging from single house lots to 3.7 acre-large sites, from vegetable and flower gardens to sitting parks. Gardens frequently receive help in the form of liability insurance, technical assistance, funding for capital improvements and more.
In order to bring added support and structure to the organization, in 2011 NGA became an affiliate of PHS, still operating as an independent nonprofit, but managed by PHS. This partnership was meant to help NGA more fully realize its vision of preserving community gardens with the additional expertise and resources PHS could provide at its disposal. In 2013, with a new mission and newly reconstituted Board of Directors, NGA changed its name to the Neighborhood Gardens Trust (NGT).
Jenny Greenberg joined NGT as executive director in 2014. She has focused throughout her career on the transformation of underutilized urban spaces into community assets that foster opportunities for city residents to engage with nature. Prior to coming to NGT, Jenny worked as a consultant for Delaware River Waterfront Corporation where she the raised over $9 million for park and trail development projects. She also served as the Vice President for Neighborhood Initiatives at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership in Camden, New Jersey. Jenny holds a BA from Vassar College and a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in West Philadelphia with her husband and two children.
Board of Directors
A 15-member board of directors is responsible for the implementation of NGT’s mission: to acquire and preserve community gardens and open space in order to enhance the quality of life in Philadelphia neighborhoods.