Community Gardens

Workforce Housing Advisors makes a garden grow

GrowNYC is very proud to have worked on making Kelly Street Green come to life in the Bronx. Congratulations to our friends at Workforce Housing Advisors on a great project!

Foothold Technology's Volunteer Day: An Interview with Founder and CMO Nick Scharlatt

Grow-To-Learn

On June 24th, Foothold Technology spent the day volunteering at PS 25 Eubie Blake School in Brooklyn.  The enthusiastic team revived the school’s garden area by clearing weeds, building raised beds, and constructing benches for an outdoor classroom. We spoke to Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Nick Scharlatt about his experience.

How did you first get involved with GrowNYC?

I first heard about GrowNYC in 2007, and by 2008 I had joined the Board!  I grew up in the city, just a few blocks from a recycling plant and a Greenmarket, so the idea of being involved and supporting GrowNYC’s work appealed to me. 

Why did you choose a school garden as a volunteer opportunity for your team?

Grow to Learn is among my favorite GrowNYC programs.  It offers what I call a “big win from a small age” – a chance to have a significant and long-lasting effect on kids, starting when they are young.  A work day in a school garden is also an opportunity to get a lot done!  If you start out with a rough plan, big overhaul becomes possible with a team of volunteers.  We can get the job done!  


How did your team react to the idea of a work day in a school garden? 

When I made the announcement to my team, people were really excited – except for one volunteer who had nightmarish flashbacks to weeding as a kid in his family’s garden!  Grow to Learn made working at a school garden totally “turn key”:  the problem was there, the equipment was there, and we were the solution.  

What were some of your favorite moments from the work day?

There was a lot of cross-team collaboration, so people who don’t necessarily ever work together were getting deep into the roots together – literally!  People who didn’t really know each other wound up working together for hours, trying to pull out a root stump, or building beds together.  

Grow-To-Learn

What do you think were the benefits of the work day for your team? The school?

The team as a whole really got behind the project.  As we were seeing how much we got done, we felt the satisfaction of the job well done.  And, talking to the staff and community members at the school, it was clear that, no matter how much of the school is involved, it sometimes feels like there’s never enough resources.  The Janitor said the job would have taken him six months alone, so it felt important to support school gardens by bringing resources, and so much human power, to tackle something and make a big impact there.

Why would you encourage others to donate to Grow to Learn? 

Every kid should experience the kind of space we were able to help build.  It shouldn’t be that only some students get to experience the variety of life experiences, curriculum, and outdoors that a school garden offers.  Grow to Learn gives kids who don’t have many opportunities to leave the city or get a taste of the outdoors a way to learn through nature.  All of a sudden, in front of everyone’s noses, there’s this amazing school resource that we could help make usable.  There’s a satisfaction for everyone who supports school gardens in knowing that with a few hours or few dollars you can change the way a whole school relates to the outdoors.

Grow-To-Learn

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.

Governors Island Teaching Garden is Open

GrowNYC is excited to announce the opening of a brand new urban farm on Governors Island! Governors Island Teaching Garden, which was created as a result of the combined efforts of GrowNYC and the Trust for Governors Island, 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 garden 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 garden 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 Teaching Garden Survey.

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 Releases Resilient Garden Manual

GrowNYC is proud to announce the release of the Resilient NYC Community Garden Guide, a practical guide on making your garden more resilient, including step-by-step guidelines to minimizing storm damage.

Superstorm Sandy came as a surprise to so many New Yorkers and lack of proper prevention exacerbated its impact. As weather incidents are more frequent, it is important that we take simple steps to minimize damage and have access to information that will help our green spaces get back online, serving New Yorkers.

GrowNYC is committed to creating a healthier, more resilient city for all of us by providing free tools and resources any New Yorker can take advantage of to improve their community. We hope this toolkit helps you to steward your green space responsibly and to ensure enjoyment for years to come thanks to sound design and preparedness.

We’ve outlined what to do before and after a major storm or other weather event so that you will be better prepared. From preventive pruning techniques to ways to secure garden features, we hope this guide will serve as a practical resource for you and your green space.

Get the Guide!

Best of the GrowNYC's 2013 Plant Sale

We're happy to say that the GrowNYC's 2013 Annual Spring Plant Sale, in its 28th year, was a huge success!  Over 500 community gardens, schools, block associations, and more received flowers, vegetables, and herbs grown by five local Greenmarket farmers.

We've spent weeks working at our new Bronx pickup site, College Avenue GreenThumb, and Hattie Carthan Community Garden in Brooklyn, helping them rebound from the beatings they took in Hurricane Sandy, and both gardens looked beautiful for the sale.  

Thanks to everyone who came out - gardeners, volunteers, and our hard working Open Space Greening staff!

         

Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools


GrowNYC formed a partnership with Wagner Middle School in Manhattan called Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools, funded by NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin. Under one roof, we are providing support from five GrowNYC programs: Learn It Grow It Eat It, Grow to Learn School Gardens, Greenmarket Youth Education, Recycling Champions and Environmental Education. For an entire year, GrowNYC staff is educating young people about how to lead lives that improve their personal health and that of the environment around them; so that eating, growing, learning and going green become second nature.

On the recycling front, we recently helped Wagner launch a school-wide cafeteria recycling program – 1,200 students in grades 6-8 sorted everything from trays to milk cartons, placing them in their proper containers with help from dozens of student volunteers and Green Team members. 1,200 students recycling milk cartons for one year will save 31 trees!

To keep it fun, grades are competing to see who can reduce their overall waste – on a weekly basis, the amount of waste will be calculated and the winning grade announced on Fridays. At the end of every month, the grade that has reduced waste and recycled the most will receive special “Out-Lunch” privileges. Wagner has averaged a daily reduction of 9 bags of garbage or 17%, while generating an extra bag of recyclables.

The contest, designed by the Green Team, was the culmination of an outreach campaign they undertook to educate their classmates. Working with their advisor, teacher and sustainability coordinator Jessica Gordon, students created posters, morning announcements, and a PowerPoint. The success of the program could not have been possible without the support and help of Wagner’s administration and staff.

GrowNYC presents Stormwater Management workshops at NYC Botanical Gardens

In the coming months, GrowNYC's Open Space Greening Assistant Director Lenny Librizzi will be presenting a series of Stormwater Management workshops at NYC botanical gardens.

These two-hour workshops will cover stormwater management best practices for community gardeners and homeowners. Learn how to conserve water and help prevent pollution from stormwater by discussing topics such as rainwater harvesting, swales, rain gardens, enhanced tree pits, permeable paving, and more.

Information about sources for start-up materials and how-to tips will be discussed.

New York Botanical Garden (Bronx) Wednesday, February 6, 6pm to 8pm
Watson Education Building
Registration required; e-mail bronxgreenup@nybg.org or call 718.817.8026. 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden 
Wednesday, February 27, 6pm to 8pm
Registration required; Enroll here

Queens Botanical Garden
Saturday, April 6, 11am to 1pm
Fee: Free with Garden Admission (pre-registration required)
Registration required; e-mail schoolprograms@queensbotanical.org or call 718-886-3800 x.230.

El Jardin del Pueblo grows in East New York

GrowNYC is proud to announce the completion of El Jardin del Pueblo, a 5,300 square-foot community garden at 2358 Pitkin Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn. El Jardin del Pueblo was originally three vacant lots owned by NYC's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The community based organization Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation approached HPD with the idea of turning the lot into a temporary hub for community building, urban agriculture, and organic chicken production.

In April, GrowNYC started site work on El Jardin, and brought 50 volunteers from Timberland to the garden for Earth Day 2012. Our Timberland volunteers cleared 2 of the 3 lots, covered the garden with landscape fabric and mulch, built 30 raised garden beds, and installed a 1,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system.

In June, the garden received 25 heirloom chickens, which produce organic eggs that are distributed to the garden's members.

In September, GrowNYC and volunteers from Bank of America cleared the 3rd vacant lot, laying down landscape fabric and mulch, and prepping the site for further development.

In October, GrowNYC and volunteers from Swiss Re developed the 3rd lot, building 5 raised beds, constructing and raising a 200 square foot shade structure, installing a 500 gallon rainwater harvesting system, and building 2 picnic tables.

A huge thanks to all of our volunteers, to NYC HPD, and to Cypress Hills Local Development Corp!

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