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City Green Celebrates 20 Years of Growing Healthy Cities

A young gardener tending to her crops at the Main Branch Paterson Free Public Library Garden. 2006

City Green’s 20th Anniversary is a Celebration of Community

This April marks the 20th anniversary of City Green! Since Jennifer Papa founded the organization in 2004, City Green has been working to nourish and build communities through supporting gardeners and improving fresh food access.


City Green is now a multi-faceted organization with a robust farm and market operation, enriching outdoor learning programs, a dedicated volunteer base, and a community garden initiative called Dig In! which helps secure thousands of dollars in funding for gardeners across Paterson, Passaic and Clifton. 


But it all began in 2004, when a group of women from Paterson enlisted City Green’s help in beautifying a vacant lot next door to one of their homes. The “Women of Faith Community Garden” was the first community garden project that City Green supported. 


Working with the women, the site was transformed from an abandoned lot into a thriving garden resplendent with plant life, blooming flowers and beds of fresh vegetables. Since that first project, City Green has continued to celebrate community through gardening, fresh food, and beautiful spaces.

An abundant raised garden bed overflowing with vegetables and flowers. Paterson Main Branch Library 2006

Today you can find City Green growing in every part of our community! Our programs currently support 200 school and community gardens and 8 City Sprouts youth gardens. In Clifton and Mt. Olive, City Green farms grow over 170 varieties of organic vegetables, sold at over 160 annual Veggie Mobile market stops from June to November.

Each year, thousands of folks from all over visit our farms and gardens, shop at our markets and attend our workshops and seasonal festivals. It’s amazing to think it all started from the seed of an idea: that all communities deserve beautiful gardens and fresh, healthy, bountiful produce. 


Thank you to everyone that has been instrumental in City Green’s story. As it continues to be written, we want you to continue to be a part of it! Keep an eye out for opportunities to celebrate with us throughout the year, as we reflect on 20 years of Growing Healthy Cities.


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