In collaboration with East Side Community High School (ESCHS):
Our section on ESCHS | ESCHS Science Team |

Composting Operation at the Garden by Reclaimed Organics, a program of Common Ground Compost.

Under NYC Parks’ GreenThumb program.

And part of LUNGS (Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens).

East Side Outside Community Garden (EO) was established as a GreenThumb community garden in 2016. The name of the garden was determined by the students at ESCHS which is next to the garden. See our section on ESCHS.

Photo by Shig M. 5/20/2017

Before EO became a GreenThumb community garden, from about 2010, the garden was mainly used by ESCHS with other organizations and volunteers, including Earth Matter NY which did composting projects with the high school students (with coordination of the biology/science teachers). The composting projects were not only a general teaching component for the whole class, but also some of the students used the project as part of their PBAT (Performance Based Assessment Tasks)—students at this high school uses the PBAT, at the conclusion of which they would do a powerpoint presentation in front of teacher and guest judges, instead of having to take the Regents Exams. See the ESCHS section on Collaboration with Garden and Composting Groups >

From about 2014, a composting operation called Reclaimed Organics, a program of Common Ground Compost, began collecting and composting food waste at the garden. They use cargo bikes, instead of motor vehicles, to pick up food waste from various locations. Eventually, the garden became an official public drop-off site, through DSNY (Sanitation), for the community to bring their food scraps, 24-7, for composting.

Before becoming the East Side Outside Community Garden, the garden was also known as LES Park (Lower East Side Park).


From 1993 until about 2010, the garden had been known as Open Road Park, a community garden and playground developed by Open Road, a community nonprofit. The shipping container, painted blue with a mural, still has the name Open Road Park on it. The container is used as storage for garden tools and Reclaimed Organics’ cargo bike and equipment.

Shipping container
Shipping container with Open Road Park painted on its side. Photo by Shig M. 10/5/2016

The site of the East Side Outside Community Garden has a long history. It is co-owned by the NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation and the NYC Dept of Education. Before that, it was a bus depot and garage where part of its structure still remain (about 3-foot high x 1-foot deep cement parapet wall in photos above and below), and before that, it was a catholic cemetery extension (the church itself was located further west and downtown and had no more burial space—they took in pretty much all of the deceased catholics at the time). Part of the wall of the cemetery grounds are still there (the stone part of the wall in photos above and below), however, a significant portion of the wall was destroyed in 2018 due to a fire in an adjacent building.

garden wall
Photo taken by Shig M. 12/20/2011 (mound of fall leaves to be used for composting)

For further details and history of the garden site, as well as, the block, see the History section.