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El Sol Brillante (left); El Jardin Del Paraiso  

The East Village


La Plaza Cultural  

1. La Plaza Cultural
Ninth St. and Ave. C
Not all community gardens are kid-friendly, but the three I visited in the East Village are. This one, wild and inviting and surrounded by a fantastic, witty fence made of recycled objects, was closed when I stopped by, so I snapped this picture from the sidewalk.

2. El Sol Brillante
Twelfth St., bet. Aves. A and B
Lush and inviting; there’s a fire pit in El Sol that neighbors use as a gathering spot in the evenings. It has a fence covered with hand-cut metal animals.


3. El Jardin del Paraiso
Fifth St. nr. Ave. C
A multi-purpose, multi-sensation garden; I heard chickens clucking, saw ducks swimming in the pond, and got to climb up the tree house. Kids learn about nature from the pond, locals farm plots for vegetables. Roderick Romero, who built the tree house, gave me a tour. “This garden saved my life when I came to New York,” right before 9/11, he said.


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