Diane Brownstone’s Garden Efforts

Diane Brownstone has spent more than a $1 million turning vacant, trash-filled lots into thriving community gardens in NYC’s most underserved neighborhoods—and now she hopes to persuade more companies and foundations to do the same.

The campaign is called “Adopt A Garden”–it’s the brainchild of Bette Midler’s non-profit New York Restoration Project (NYRP). After years of slowly restoring troubled gardens, the organization is now kicking the campaign into overdrive with the goal of getting 17 adopted by the end of 2015. Their aim is to entice wealthy donors into leaving a lasting green legacy in communities most starved for beautiful open space.

Already, the campaign has attracted such high-profile donors as The Walt Disney Company Foundation, Michael Kors and Jo Malone London. The cost of adoption ranges between $50,000-$1,000,000, depending on the size and scale of the renovation. The results for the community are always transformative.


At Maggie’s Garden in Harlem, a dangerous, drug-filled lot is now a vibrant hub of activity, where neighbors meet their neighbors, plant tomatoes, and host Easter egg hunts and Halloween parties for local children. The turnaround was so dramatic, former President Bill Clinton even made an appearance at its unveiling. It’s Diane’s, and NYRP’s, hope that this final push will get these remaining gardens adopted this year, so families in those underserved communities can also enjoy safe, pristine gardens.

“Through our Garden Adoption Campaign, New York Restoration Project is transforming long-forgotten lots in low-income neighborhoods into lush gardens and thriving community hubs,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director of the New York Restoration Project. “But we still have 17 gardens left to go, and it’s our goal to identify at least 17 more donors to leave their lasting green legacy.”