• community gardens;
  • grassroots activism;
  • neoliberalism;
  • New York City;
  • politics of scale

ABSTRACT. New York City community gardens have been the subject of political contestation over the course of their thirty-year existence. In 1999, 114 gardens were slated for public auction and redevelopment. This article examines the controversy over the garden auction as a politics of scale in which garden advocates successively raised the scope of the controversy beyond the scale of individual gardens, and ultimately beyond that of the city. Analysis of this land-use conflict highlights the significance of politics of scale for grassroots organizations within a market-centric, neoliberal economic framework.