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GreenThumb NYC Parks - Events FAQ

What is an event that requires GreenThumb notification?

Events are any planned occasions where the garden group or its partners open the garden gates and invite in members of the public. And these policies only apply to gardens on NYC Parks property. Gardens located entirely on a land trust, other city agency, or private property are not required to complete the event form, but we welcome your event submissions and can potentially help promote your event.


Examples of events include movie nights in the garden, music events, art workshops, and more. For tips on event planning, check out our Event Planning on a Shoestring and our Run of Show Template located below.


Internal garden meetings or workdays are not considered public events and there's no need to notify GreenThumb (although please feel free to invite your Outreach Coordinator and they may join you).


You can read more about event policies in the Gardeners Handbook here.


What about a workday that's also a recruitment drive?

We're huge fans - it's a great way to bring in the public, let interested members build some sweat equity, and help accomplish those essential garden tasks. If your garden group plans to promote a workday as a public event and wants to encourage public participation, then  yes, it qualifies as an event that would require GreenThumb notification. Please do let us know about these public events and, if you'd like, we can try to help promote this event and assist you in recruiting new members.


Also, a number of garden groups have asked about waivers for volunteer workdays. NYC Parks has provided the following optional waiver that groups can use and which can be found in Appendix C (page 96 in the Gardeners Handbook). Reminder: Your group is not required to use this waiver and it only applies to visiting members of the public. Garden members fall uder the assumption of risk sign and section detailed in the "License and Registration Requirements for Gardens Under NYC Parks" chapter (page 16 in the Gardeners Handbook).

What about a spontaneous event that happens during open hours?
In cases where a group might wander in during open hours to use the space - that’s just the nature of stewarding public open space in a city of 8.6 million. There’s no need to tell us about a random gathering of friends coming in to use the space. Although we do encourage groups to have guest books to keep track of this sort of foot traffic (it can be a great number to mention when applying for a grant!).

How long is the Event Submission Form and what information will we need?

It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes (and likely less time than that). You'll need to provide us some simple basic details first: when is the event, what time, a short description, a contact person if we need to follow-up or there are questions the day of, any information needed to promote the event if desired, and whether the event is being held directly by the garden group itself or in cooperation with a third party. After that, the questionnaire will prompt you to answer a few questions so that you and your group are aware of any of the more common permits that might be required by New York City.


What sort of permits might NYC require for our event?

Amplified sound is the most common permit (including speakers for music and microphones). The Event Submission Form will prompt you with permit-related questions such as:

  • Will you have an open flame or generator (which might require permitting from FDNY);
  • Estimate how many people you expect inside the garden at any one given moment (if you think you'll have 200 or more people there in the garden at the exact same time, you'll need a permit from the Department of Buildings); 
  • Whether or not you will have a microphone or other amplified sound (permitting is done through your local NYPD precinct);
  • Whether or not this event is a fundraiser (each garden is allowed two fundraisers as of right under the new license and proceeds must go toward the garden); and
  • Whether or not there will be any commercial film or photography.

GreenThumb does not provide these permits directly, but we can assist with the Temporary Use Authorization if a group is another fundraiser beyond their first two.


The flowchart here also outlines the event process.


What happens after we fill out the form and submit an event?

You will also receive an automatic response from the form that lets you know that your event has been submitted. Please check your spam folder if you feel that you've successfully submitted the form, but haven't received this receipt message. GreenThumb staff will then review the provided details and follow-up shortly. However, it is the responsibility of the garden group to obtain the required permits for the event.


How long will GreenThumb take to approve an event?

We can't give a specific timeframe and it will depend on the number of events submitted by almost 400 gardens groups on NYC Parks property, the particular details of the event, the time of year, and other factors. But we will do our best to follow-up with you as soon as possible.


What if our event is not approved?

We'll do our best to provide an explanation on why the event was rejected (for example, perceived as unsafe or overly commercial) and we'll provide suggestions as to how the event can be modified.


Do we need to provide permits to GreenThumb?

No, you do not need to share required permits with GreenThumb. It is the responsibility of the garden group to obtain needed permits.


Why is this process now required?

Garden groups on NYC Parks property have always been required to notify us of public events. We're simply working to streamline and centralize the process now. This will allow us to better highlight the amazing engagement work accomplished by community gardens and spotlight the invaluable work that volunteers do in maintaining public open space. 


Additionally, we have found that groups have sometimes struggled to understand the permits required for different events and activities in our city. New York policies are regularly changing and we hope that this online form will help guide groups through the more commonly required City permits. Note that permits are the responsibility of the garden group to obtain. 


Why do we now need all these permits?

New York City has always required different permits for different kinds of events and activities (more details are available here). NYC Parks GreenThumb is now making it easier for garden groups, who have always been responsible to obtain necessary permits, to learn about some of the more common permits through our Event Submission Form.


Can we have alcohol at our events?

No, alcohol is not permitted at GreenThumb gardens on NYC Parks property. Obtaining a temporary or special event permit to serve alcohol from the New York State Liquor Authority does not remove or negate this prohibition.


What about groups that don’t have internet access for this form?

We’ll be providing paper forms and groups can contact GreenThumb at 212-602-5300 and we can fill out the form over the phone.


What if our group has a large amount of events to submit?

Please contact your Outreach Coordinator and we can work with making this process go more smoothly, especially if there’s a digital copy of the events and details.


Last Edited, February 20, 2020

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