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Annual Report 2013 | Letter from the Chairman

Kafin-Robert-0348-HeadshotLetter from the Chairman

To Mayor Bill de Blasio, Members, Contributors, Volunteers, Staff and Friends:

GrowNYC continued its work in 2013 of making the quality of life in our City better through a wide variety of activities and programs that speak to the inseparable bond between the resiliency of human communities and the quality of the natural environment that sustains them.

We do things. Over our more than 40 years of experience we have learned that while advocating and talking can be inspirational, direct action is more important in effecting change that people can see and feel in their own lives in the here and now. We know that New York City is a better, healthier and happier place because of the efforts of GrowNYC.

Much of our energy is devoted to improving the food systems that service our City. We promote food production and distribution as a way of reacquainting our urban population with the smart use of land and the need for high water quality. While our retail Greenmarket farmers markets appear as our flagship program in this regard, they are merely the most visible anchor to a much broader set of coordinated activities aimed at preserving farms and encouraging the consumption of fresh, locally produced foods.

Some of us came of age with the sound of Joni Mitchell singing “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot.” To address the oppressive feeling that comes from unrelieved expanses of asphalt and concrete, another significant GrowNYC contribution to making the City a better place comes from its greening efforts. Originally created as a way to transform rubble-strewn vacant lots into community gardens, GrowNYC is a city-wide catalyst for greening public spaces, including hundreds of public school gardens. Even small plots of greens, flowers and vegetables bring welcome variety and peace to our urban cityscape.

We hope that by reading our Annual Report, visiting grownyc.org, or most persuasively, by experiencing our programming, you can see the impact of GrowNYC’s activities on people and places. Our objective is to involve everyone in helpful activities, such as recycling and gardening, that lead to a more healthful and sustainable environment. We collaborate with governmental institutions, businesses and community organizations to leverage our expertise and resources and build teams to do what we cannot do alone.

We are lucky to have a talented and dedicated staff at GrowNYC working under the leadership of our Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. Their energy, resourcefulness and skill bring continuous pleasure to all the New York City neighborhoods they touch. We are happy and fortunate to have become an important part of the fabric of our City and look forward to many more years of contributing to its betterment.



Robert J. Kafin