November 4, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
The Lenape Edible Estate in front of the Hudson Guild in Manhattan was created by Fritz Haeg to provide a view back into the lives of the native Lenape people–how they lived off the land from the native edible plants 400 years ago on the island of Mannahatta, later known as Manhattan.
The gardens, which serve the residents of New York City Housing Authority’s Elliott-Chelsea Houses, are designed to showcase examples of four distinct zones: woodland, berry patch, flowering meadow, and “three sisters”–mounded plantings of beans, corn and squash. Signage designed by PS New York, identifies each of the plants and describes how each was used by the Lenape. A meditation both on the historical facts and the future possibilities for our occupation of the island, the garden landscape may also serve as a model for modest small scale urban edible landscapes and as a possible prototype for future green spaces on similar housing sites across the city. A central gathering circle is available to groups students and children who will visit to study and work on the garden.
Elliott-Chelsea Houses are part of a large complex of public housing towers owned and managed by the New York Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Hudson Guild is based in Elliott Chelsea Houses and was founded in 1895 to build community in Chelsea and beyond through a broad range of programs and services. Eric Sanderson is a landscape ecologist based in New York City at the Wildlife Conservation Society and founder of The Mannahatta Project. Edible Estates is an on-going project by Fritz Haeg.