Health Bucks are Back!

From now until November, while supplies last, for every $5 you spend with your EBT card at one of our Greenmarkets, you will receive a $2 Health Bucks coupon good for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables in the market.

The Health Bucks initiative was developed by the NYC Health Department District Public Health Offices and in 2013, GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets distributed over $260,000 worth of Health Bucks at 51 market locations. The increase of 40% in buying power can help increase a Food Stamp budget and encourage shoppers to spend more of their monthly Food Stamp allotment on fresh produce from the market. Overall, this innovative program helps GrowNYC/Greenmarket provide additional opportunities for shoppers to access fresh and affordable produce in NYC.

Ever wondered if you might qualify for EBT/Foodstamp benefits? There are over 500,000 people in New York City that qualify for EBT/Foodstamps but do not receive them. Several of our markets will be holding EBT screening sessions throughout the summer to help New Yorkers find out if they qualify for Foodstamps and provide them with resources on how to file for those benefits. Partners including The New York City Coalition Against Hunger, The Food Bank of New York City, and The Met Council will be on hand at Union Square Greenmarket through the end of August on Mondays and Fridays from 9 am to 2 pm and at other markets throughout the summer and fall. Visit your local market webpage to find out if they will be hosting an upcoming screening.   

Learn more about GrowNYC's EBT and Food Access programs.

A Day in the Life: A Grow to Learn School Garden tour

Grow to Learn celebrated the end of the 2013-14 school year with a tour of four school gardens in Harlem and the Bronx. Since launching in February 2011, 438 schools have joined Grow to Learn, making them eligible for garden grant funding, training and materials offered by Grow to Learn partners GrowNYC, NYC Parks Department’s GreenThumb Division and NYC Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood. Join us on this virtual tour of some dynamic school gardening programs:

Stepping into the hydroponics classroom at PS 208m The Alain L. Locke Magnet School for Environmental Stewardship, several fifth graders sat huddled over small tanks in front of them.  They were adjusting and observing the miniature hydroponics systems they had designed and built themselves.  Behind them stood the rows of basil, rainbow chard, and lettuce they’d been tending in the larger classroom system that served as their model. 

The class, taught by hydroponics teacher Tina Wong, begins with the history and basics of hydroponics, includes lots of planting and harvesting (each student tends to one plant, and picks what they get to grow), and ends with a STEM-infused experimental design unit.  Next year, students will test their know-how against the elements by expanding their garden – for the first time – outdoors.  With the help of City Year and Grow to Learn staff, PS 208 built an outdoor garden area with raised beds in cheerful shades of purple, yellow, red, and blue.  During the coming school year, students will run a small farmers’ market as part of their class, learning economics and business principles as they garden.

Ask the students at Family Life Academy Charter School, the next stop on our tour, if they know a good place to get local produce, and they might just tell you their roof.  During our visit, FLACS students could be spotted pulling young carrots straight from the ground, lining up at the hose for a quick rinse, and munching away.  Between bites, students shared a variety of facts they’d learned researching different crops in the garden (originally, students had been asked to create labels for crops, but got so excited they would up making a fact-packed laminated brochure for every plant in the garden). 

The school’s chef, Chef Bennett, looked on proudly.  He uses garden produce (especially herbs) in the school’s cafeteria, and uses the garden as a way to make healthy eating more appetizing, exciting, and understandable to the students that pass through his lunchroom.  We were lucky enough to stay for lunch, and enjoyed a fresh salad bar, roasted cauliflower, and other healthy treats!

At Bronx Lighthouse College Prep Academy, students spoke eloquently about the hard work and long hours they’d contributed to the garden.  They shared their different roles (from seed-purchaser to resident photographer), their garden struggles (a four-flight bucket brigade to bring soil to their terrace garden came to mind), and the rewards of all their hard work – like pesto from garden-grown basil served in the cafeteria.  Currently in their second season, the Bronx Lighthouse College Prep Academy gardeners felt more seasoned, and expected to produce over 400 tomatoes – a bumper crop compared to the four they said they harvested last year!

We ended the day with a sweet surprise at PS 154x Jonathan D. Hyatt: members of the Chicken and Garden Club greeted us at the garden gate with a bucket of freshly picked raspberries.  Older students, about to graduate, showed up-and-coming Garden Club students the ropes: from watering, to weeding, to eating radishes straight from the ground.  Most exciting, though, was the run on the far side of the building where “The Ladies” live.  Four hens (Storm, CoCo, Tami, and Diva) live and roost in a coop and run abutting Alexander Avenue, and are a constant source of curiosity and delight for teachers, students, neighborhood residents, and passersby.

ANNOUNCING: Governors Island Urban Farm!

GrowNYC is excited to announce the opening of a brand new urban farm on Governors Island! Governors Island Urban Farm was created as a result of the combined efforts of GrowNYC and the Trust for Governors Island, after the demand for our program at Randall's Island Urban Farm became higher than we could accommodate.

Governors Island Urban Farm is an 8,000 square foot urban farm that will feature over 20 vegetable beds made from recycled plastic lumber, a gourd tunnel, fruit trees, a bean teepee, an outdoor kitchen, and so much more!

The farm will host free field trips for New York City public school and summer camp groups April-November. If you would like to schedule a field trip for the Summer 2014 season, please fill out the Field Trip Request Form. Due to the high demand of field trips, a spot is not guaranteed.

In addition to scheduled school visits, the farm will host gardening workshops and will be open to the public during weekends from July 12 through September 28, 12pm-4pm. GrowNYC will provide tours, volunteer opportunities, and activities for children and families. Please check our website for scheduled events.

If you are interested in receiving information about upcoming field trip, workshop, or volunteer opportunities, please fill out the Governors Island Urban Farm Survey.

4th of July Greenmarket Schedule Changes

Friday, July 4th, schedule changes for Greenmarkets and food scrap/textile collections are below. All Saturday and Sunday markets will be OPEN this weekend.
Have a great 4th of July! 

OPEN GREENMARKETS 
Union Square Greenmarket, MN: There will be food scrap collections. 
97th Street Greenmarket, MN: There will be food scrap and textile collections. 

CLOSED GREENMARKETS 
Parkchester Greenmarket, BX: There will be NO food scrap/textile collections.
Lincoln Hospital Greenmarket, BX 
City Hall Park Greenmarket, MN
Staten Island Ferry Terminal Greenmarket, MN


 

GrowNYC and Sierra Club Puerto Rico Team Up to “Recicla Boricua” at Puerto Rican Day Parade


Over 100 bags of recyclable materials were collected by volunteers. 

The highly celebrated National Puerto Rican Day Parade that descended upon Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Sunday, June 8 was red and white and green all over. A plan to educate participants about waste reduction, reuse and recycling resulted in more than 318 pounds of recyclable materials collected by GrowNYC and the Sierra Club Puerto Rico chapter. 50 volunteers trained by GrowNYC’s office of Recycling Outreach and Education marched in the parade alongside the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Sierra Club in an effort to help an estimated audience of 2,000,000 keep it green. With signs and banners within in hand, volunteers approached spectators to collect beverage bottles and other recyclables for the duration of the event. GrowNYC’s free event recycling services included volunteer recruitment, outreach to parade float participants before the event, education on recycling rules and the creation of an event recycling plan to reduce waste at the parade.

Recycling at Greenmarkets as Bountiful as the Produce

GrowNYC Greenmarkets are opening for the season throughout the city, bringing with them not only a bounty of fresh regional products, but also expanding weekly opportunities for New Yorkers to recycle textiles and compost food scraps. 

In 2007, GrowNYC’s newly-created Office of Recycling Outreach and Education began testing a program to collect clothing and textiles at Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets.  Tax-deductible donations of textiles such as Sustainability Center at Greenmarketclothing, shoes and towels are collected and later sorted for reuse, or recycled into new products such as wiping rags and insulation. We quickly discovered New Yorkers’ dedication to living sustainably and have met their demand for more recycling--36 Greenmarkets now offer this service, with 10 new locations starting up this spring and summer.    

Since 2011, GrowNYC has worked to complement existing Greenmarket food scrap collections run by BIG!Compost and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, to meet the growing chorus of Greenmarket shoppers wishing to bring back trimmings from their weekly market haul.  Today, in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation and community partners, 38 Greenmarkets host food scrap drop-offs at least once a week.  Material collected is transported to one of several local sites in the five boroughs where it is transformed into compost, a fertile soil amendment for use in urban farming and gardening programs.

GrowNYC has collected more than 2.7 million pounds of textiles and 2.85 million pounds of food scraps at dozens of Greenmarket collection sites throughout the city.  Together, food scraps and textiles comprise 23% of NYC’s waste, making efforts like these critical to reducing the big apple’s environmental footprint. 

Find a list of Greenmarkets accepting food scraps at www.grownyc.org/compost and a list of textile collection sites at www.grownyc.org/clothing, or call 212-788-7964.

Grow to Learn NYC Congratulates Carson Daly and the Today Show for "shining a light" on the importance of school gardens

A statement by Marcel Van Ooyen Executive Director, GrowNYC

I want to personally congratulate Carson Daly of the Today Show for supporting our efforts to build a garden in every New York City School.  Since its launch in February 2011, Grow to Learn NYC has been working to connect NYC public and charter schools with the funding, training and materials needed for their students to dig in, connect to nature and build more positive attitudes towards healthy foods.

As a result of our partnerships with city agencies, funders and fellow non-profits, 436 schools have registered garden projects with Grow to Learn, giving them access to the garden mini-grants, training, material giveaways as well as opportunities and resources offered by greening and wellness partner organizations--with a focus on supporting schools in underserved communities like the South Bronx, Central and East Harlem and Central Brooklyn.

To date, Grow to Learn has distributed $517,000 in 331 garden mini-grants to schools. And one hundred percent of funds raised for mini-grants go directly to the schools to allow them to purchase what they need from local retailers so their learning garden programs can bloom.  

We are deeply grateful to Mr. Daly and the Today Show for highlighting the need to expand gardens to all schools and look forward to seeing more school gardens bloom around the city. 

GrowNYC Receives “Vivacious Volunteer” Award from Baruch College

Last night, GrowNYC’s Stop ‘N’ Swap® coordinators, TK Zellers and Carl-Harry Nau, received recognition for their work with the Sigma Alpha Delta Honor Society at Baruch College Society's Induction Ceremony.  Affectionately known as our “swapateers,” TK and Carl have provided nearly 200 hours of community service opportunities to help Honor Society members achieve their goal for the year. “This award represents our appreciation for GrowNYC’s hard work and endless dedication to Sigma,” said Ly Bach, chair of the society’s volunteer committee. “We would not be able to give back to the community without your help with volunteering events.” 

Sigma Alpha Delta seeks to provide continuous support for its members in their pursuit of valuable communitarian contributions, with a focus on diversity and for the betterment of present and future generations.  Sigma members have volunteered at numerous Stop ‘N’ Swap community reuse events, helping to sort and display items dropped off and ensuring a smooth operation from start to finish.  Sigma Alpha Delta is one of many groups at Baruch that engage with GrowNYC by volunteering at Swaps, other events, and by working with our sister Greenmarket program. This is just the beginning, as GrowNYC looks forward to providing even more opportunities for Baruch students next semester.

Want to volunteer at a Stop ‘N’ Swap or other activity?  Check out our volunteer opportunities here!

Green Living Team Unites Residents and Staff to Revive Recycling

WSFSSH Green Living Team Unites Around Organics Collection

Food has always been common ground that brings people together.  Now, some New Yorkers are uniting over the scraps. This year the West Side Federation of Senior Supportive Housing (WSFSSH) hosted a Living Green Team Awards Ceremony, to celebrate and recognize superintendents and building managers who set the standard in energy efficiency and water conservation, among other environmental initiatives.  In April the 24-building, 1,800+ unit housing and social service agency honored five representatives of buildings that partnered with GrowNYC to improve solid waste management through recycling and composting. More...

GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen profiled by the New York Times

The New York Times recently profiled GrowNYC's Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen in its Sunday Routine column.

Check out what our boss is up to!

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