Open Space Greening Overview
One of the key elements of GrowNYC’s Open Space Greening (OSG) program is the ability to foster the connection between food, people, health, and the environment. We partner with neighborhood residents to establish buy-in to create and sustain community gardens, parks, and green oases. GrowNYC provides soil, trees, flowers, garden furniture, design advice, and significant technical and material assistance to create and/or rehabilitate 1-3 gardens each year on a substantial level, while helping maintain the more than 60 gardens created in prior years. We also partner with organizations like the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s GreenThumb division to assist in targeted efforts like post Super Storm Sandy garden recovery and rehab. Residents participate in workshops and have access to services, tool lending, donated plant material, and open space planning/mapping information they need to steward green spaces. We encourage school gardens and provide options to those lacking on-site proximal open space to realize the goal of ‘No Child Left Inside’ with mini-grants and other resources. Our contribution to the health and beauty of NYC’s urban environment continues to be substantial for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who participate in open spaces we assist.
Grow to Learn NYC
Across the City, we are working hard to help gardens bloom at each of the 1,700 public schools, so all of our youngest neighbors have the chance to dig in, learn in a hands-on and exciting way, and build positive attitudes towards healthy food. Together with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, the NYC Department of Education, and NYC Department of Parks’ GreenThumb Division, we ensure that NYC schools have access to garden mini-grants, materials, and support needed to start, maintain, and expand successful learning garden programs. By helping learning gardens grow across the five boroughs, Grow to Learn increases environmental awareness and healthy food attitudes among NYC’s 1.1 million students while ultimately having positive impacts on current and future consumption behaviors, leading to healthier kids, communities, and planet.
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Annual Plant Sale
GrowNYC’s 27th Annual Plant Sale returned to Hattie Carthan Community Garden in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and Wishing Well Community Garden in Morrisania, Bronx, and was bigger than ever: over 500 community gardens, schools, block associations, and other groups purchased low cost vegetable, herb, and flower plants. For the second year, we accepted SNAP/EBT for edible plants!
Click HERE to learn more about the Annual Plant Sale.
Randall’s Island Learning Garden
The 13,000 sq. ft. urban farm—complete with chickens and a rice paddy—saw 37 school groups coming through, where close to 1,000 NYC school children spenta day outside learning and farming. Working in partnership with Randall’s Island Park Alliance, students learned about where their food comes from, how to grow it, and how to care for egg laying hens. Healthy food consumption is encouraged as students blend healthy beverages using their energy on the bicycle blender. With help from Bloomberg volunteers and others, RILG has expanded to include an additional 3,000 square feet of space. We are proud of the positive response from students and teachers, who most often leave the garden with the question: “When can we come back?”
Click HERE to learn more about Randall’s Island Learning Garden.
Garden in the Sky: Via Verde
This year we collaborated on Via Verde, a modern affordable housing project in the South Bronx, by creating a rooftop farm for residents to use and enjoy. In its first season of production, this communal garden featured an assortment of organic, heirloom herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers, 1,000 lbs of which were collected and distributed to PS 43 in the Bronx and Neighbors Together food pantry, while some was distributed amongst the Via Verde Garden Club members. GrowNYC helped tenants form the Garden Club and is providing ongoing programming for two years. Garden members participate in monthly workshops in the community room, equipped with a full kitchen, allowing participants to engage in a variety of gardening and food preparation/tasting demonstrations as well as take home recipes.
Gardener Profile: Yanet Rojas, The Peoples’ Garden
Ever since Yanet can remember, she has always loved plants. When she was just 6 years old growing up in Lima, Peru, that love led her to create a garden where nobody thought a garden belonged, “a place where we didn’t have water, we didn’t have soil – it was a really a kind of desert. And we had a beautiful garden – the most unique garden in our neighborhood.” From that starting point, Yanet planted any seed she could get her hands on, imagining what could come from such little packages. “Gardening for me is a kind of philosophy, because you are not just growing plants, you are growing yourself – your humanity and your soul.”
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New Site Development: El Jardín del Pueblo
GrowNYC is proud to announce the completion of El Jardín del Pueblo, a 5,300 square-foot community garden in East New York, Brooklyn. El Jardín is built on 3 previously vacant lots owned by NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Cypress Hills Local Development Corp. approached the City to develop the site and in April, GrowNYC started site work on El Jardín, which now features 35 raised garden beds, 1,000 and 500 gallon rainwater harvesting systems, a 200 square foot shade structure, and 25 heirloom breed chickens. NYC HPD, Cypress Hills Development Corp. and volunteers from Swiss Re, Timberland, Gotham Bar and Grill, and Bank of America all worked together to make the site what it is today.
Greening Western Queens
Thanks to support from North Star Fund’s Greening Western Queens Fund, GrowNYC built gardens at 5 schools in Western Queens in 2012: PS 122 and Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Astoria, IS 230 in Woodside, PS 76, and PS 199 in Long Island City.
GrowNYC also completed a 660 square foot addition to Long Island City Roots Community Garden, creating much needed gardening opportunities for local residents and neighborhood schools. Together, our new school gardens and the LIC Roots addition will reach 1,500 students and residents.
Volunteers Make Gardens Grow
Our impact in maintaining green spaces is much greater with sweat equity.Volunteer work days at 21 garden sites this past year help gardens to flourishwith TLC and materials. Thank you to the hundreds of individual volunteers who came out to lend a hand and to the following corporate volunteer groups:
Bank of America
Gotham Bar and Grill
White & Case
Sharing what we have and what we know is at the heart of what GrowNYC does.
Grow Truck is our mobile tool lending and technical assistance service. We respond to requests from gardens to lend tools, provide technical assistance, and support green-up days, assisting more than 50 neighborhood greening projects in 2012, including transport and delivery at GrowNYC’s major renovation sites, giving schools, gardens, churches, block associations, and others without gardening budgets an opportunity to green the neighborhoods that need it the most.
One of the challenges that community gardeners face is having sufficient supplies for large scale work day improvement projects where you have willing volunteers but not enough tools for the job. Garden tools like wheelbarrows – especially in large quantity – can get expensive for those whose green space relies on sweat equity and tight budgets, not to mention the problem that all us urban dwellers face: where do we store it when not in use? That’s where Grow Truck comes in and why it is such a valuable resource for neighborhood open space.
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New Site: KaBOOM! Playground
GrowNYC was a major partner in building a KaBOOM! playspace at Grote Street, Bronx: staff and volunteers built a playground, benches, murals, a children’s garden, picnic tables, chess board table tops, and more over a oneweek period while other GrowNYC recycling staff developed and implemented a recycling plan to make all efforts zero waste.
In 2012, GrowNYC staff installed 7 rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems including at the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers, Green Gems Community Garden in East New York with the Million Trees training program, and at Altagracia Community Center in Washington Heights. This brings RWH system collection capability to over one million gallons citywide. At the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers, staff worked with teachers and students to redesign and rebuild their garden shed to accommodate a 250 gallon rainwater harvesting system. The students prefabricated the walls in their shop class and did much of the work to install the new roof and rainwater tank in a 3 day intensive build out. Click here to Follow the process from the students’ perspectives.
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Case Study PS 62
In July 2011, GrowNYC sent letters to every school in Hunts Point in hopes of enticing them to start a garden. There was not a single registered school garden in the region. One week later, Principal Manfredonia at P.S. 62 called the Grow to Learn office. Kindergarten teacher Ms. Johnson, along with five other parents and teachers, began working alongside GrowNYC’s staffer Madeleine Andersen who, thanks to funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, provides technical assistance to schools in high-need areas.
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