Community Gardens

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!

Featured Grow to Learn Garden: Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, & Engineering

Grow to Learn NYC: the Citywide School Gardens Initiative was established in 2010 as a public-private partnership between GrowNYC, The Mayor’s Fund, and several government agency partners. Grow to Learn profiles successful school gardens in their monthly newsletter The School Gardens Beet. The September profile appears below. It was a week before the school year officially began yet Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering (CSS-MSE)’s garden was blooming with activity as students planted pollinator-attracting perennials, filled beds with soil, weeded, added trellis lines to tomato plants, turned the compost, and painted. Abby (13), Ashley (12), and Ariana (11) led me around their garden, expertly identifying their crops and generously offering me tastes along the way. Constructed by students practicing their engineering skills, the raised beds were lined with plastic and chicken wire to dissuade animals from burrowing inside. As we moved on, some unique and colorful structures caught my eye. The garden has two rainwater barrels painted as a chicken and a pig, and a large brightly-painted wooden shed. The front is painted with chalkboard paint where students list their garden to-dos and create temporary works of art. Ashley pointed out the different tools and supplies in the shed, but was particularly proud of the supply of extra work boots in case a student isn’t wearing proper footwear. Abby was also proud to point out the garden’s six compost bins and their contents.

Abby’s dad built the garden’s most recent addition: the compost tumbler. Made out of salvaged materials, it includes engineering that will enable them to harvest natural gas from the compost! Using student recipes and ideas, they plan to use the gas for cooking in the garden, an activity that the students enthusiastically lead from prep to feast. What were these students doing in the garden during their summer vacation? Ariana expressed that she likes to plant and “growing different types of plants and vegetables is cool.” Ashley loves the garden, it is “a place for me and my friends to gather while helping the environment and still have fun.” Abby agreed and added that being in the garden “is a chance to get away from the city.” Behind the students’ love for the garden is a dedicated and inspirational teacher, Meredith Hill. Meredith’s goal is to make the garden as student-driven as possible. During the month of June, students participate in an elective course focusing on one topic. Abby and Ashley joined Meredith and 30 other classmates in the garden for a Food and Sustainability course where they learned garden care, compost, raised bed construction, and how to prepare meals using produce from the garden, choosing what to plant and cook. The course culminated in the publication of Fresh!, a student-authored anthology created entirely by the 7th grade Food and Sustainability Class and features some of our favorite GreenThumb school gardeners. Students teach skills that they learn to fellow gardeners and the rest of the school community. From Garden to Café harvest events incorporating garden produce into the menu to collecting food waste for composting, the school gardeners have a big presence during lunch at CSS-MSE. Following a student suggestion, the School Food Director allowed students to harvest, prepare and add fresh veggies to pizza as well as distribute samples of garden produce from tomatoes to kale chips. To keep the students’ interest and excitement—and the garden—maintained, Meredith introduced open garden hours during the summer. Students were able to choose their level of involvement with the garden and it provides a chance for students who were not in her class to dig in and help. CSS-MSE’s gardening successes didn’t come without challenges. After two years of having a rooftop garden, new regulations made them unable to use the space. Meredith explained, “I started looking for spaces elsewhere to garden, and a colleague suggested that I check out this space. The site was indeed overgrown and abandoned. Once we discovered it was a Parks Department property, I contacted GreenThumb and we started the process of registering it as a garden. Crucial to this process was finding interested parents and colleagues who helped make connections and offer support to the garden. We received keys about a year later, in the spring of 2010.” Meredith and her students are so grateful for all the support they have received from GreenThumb and Grow to Learn as they have built and improved their garden. Now that the school year has begun, they will transition some of their beds into colder-weather crops, and hope to extend the growing season, thanks to new row-covers from a recent GreenThumb workshop! They plan to hold leaf raking parties in Morningside Park to stow away lots of brown material for their year of cafeteria compost. Meredith will incorporate the garden into her English class this year as a way to demonstrate how gardening supports the Common Core standards. Students are also enthusiastically planning a GreenThumb composting workshop for this October that will be led by 7th and 8th grade students. Keep a lookout in our October newsletter for the exact date, time, and location.

Help GrowNYC Win a New Grow Truck!

Grow Truck is GrowNYC's mobile tool-lending program, delivering tools, donated plants, soil, compost, and lumber, and dispensing on-site technical assistance all across New York City, for free since 1977. We've had our current Grow Truck for 23 years, and it's time for a new one - and you can help us get a brand new truck by voting for GrowNYC in Toyota's 100 Cars for Good contest on Facebook. On Sunday May 20th, go to 100carsforgood.com and vote for GrowNYC. In the meantime, you can "Attend" our Facebook event so you get a reminder to vote for us on the 20th. Until May 20th, watch the video we made especially for this contest, and look through some of our photos below of the Grow Truck's past 35 years. And by all means - if you've got a project that you need to borrow tools for, let us know!

Some of GrowNYC's Best Volunteers

We are truly thankful for the time volunteers commit to helping GrowNYC provide resources for a better NYC. Meet a few of our awesome volunteers! JOE BUCK As an Open Space Greening volunteer with GrowNYC, Joe has led teams of volunteers at Greening's biggest event of the year, the Annual Spring Plant Sale, which distributes plants to over 500 neighborhood garden projects every year. Why he does it: I enjoy the opportunities with GrowNYC and the community gardens because I get to tap into my imaginary “Inner-Gardener” in the midst of the urban jungle. “To be of service” was instilled in me growing up, so it feels natural to lend a hand. Besides, being self-absorbed is far more exhausting. The best part: Getting dirty! My job is a suit and tie. So having the opportunity to dig in the dirt, learn about a flower or vegetable or help create an oasis in what was once an empty lot is magical. It sounds bit corny, but I mean it. The impact: It connects resources with needs! It gives people the opportunity to step out their comfort zones and actually be part of the solution. Each one teach one, right?! NANCY RAPHAEL As a recycling volunteer with GrowNYC, Nancy has helped teach New Yorkers about composting and contributed to successful recycling at large events. Why she does it: I thoroughly believe that it takes a collective effort to make a difference and enjoy working with GrowNYC staff and fellow volunteers who have dedication visible in their faces. I do not view my volunteering experience as giving up my Saturday or Sunday, or as sacrificing my sleep. Instead, I see it as contributing my time to making a big difference in changing the carbon footprint of New York and I am proud to be a part of such a large task. The best part: The fun of engaging with New Yorkers and asking them to take care of the city they live in and think of the world they are a part of as well as connecting with fellow volunteers. I also enjoy the camaraderie between recycling volunteers that makes for a successful effort. The impact: As people become more and more conscious, they will feel compelled to volunteer their time and recycle at home and everywhere they may be--picking up stuff on the ground or advising others to recycle. ERIN EASTERN As a Greenmarket volunteer with GrowNYC, Erin staffs Union Square Greenmarket's Market Information Station and answers customer questions while assisting with cooking demonstrations and other market promotions. Why I do it: I volunteer because I believe in the farmers market/food justice movement and enjoy being helpful to the Market Managers so that they can run one of the best Public Markets in the world. I am proud to be a small part in the success of Greenmarket. Also, I love being outside rain or shine. As an indoor worker during the week, I genuinely miss the time I spent working outdoors and the feeling of being out there (especially when the weather is beautiful, of course). The best part: Having a community that is separate from my work, family, and friends. The people I meet through Greenmarket cross the usual cultural boundaries (e.g. urban/rural, young/old, farmer/organizer) and broaden my social world. I enjoy meeting the other volunteers and learning how they came to Greenmarket; making new friends that also have an interest in food justice, urban growing, CSA's, and a myriad of other cool things unrelated to food like film studies, United States law, and sports. The impact: The larger impact of Greenmarket is huge and I like thinking about how I am part of what they accomplish: Encouraging New Yorkers to interact with their food producers and learn where their food comes from; providing underserved communities access to fresh, healthy foods; creating a learning environment for schools and media; incubating small businesses and helping farmers to stay on their land.

Grow to Learn NYC turns 1 and registers its 200th School

We're proud to report that Grow to Learn NYC: the Citywide School Gardens Initiative has just celebrated its first anniversary. A public/private partnership between GrowNYC, the Mayor’s Office to Advance New York City, and GreenThumb, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Grow to Learn was created to inspire, create and maintain gardens in every public school in New York City. Offering mini-grants, free materials and technical expertise to registered gardens, Grow to Learn helps school gardeners create gardens that can be utilized as outdoor classrooms and indoor living labs.

We're also proud that we've just registered our 200th school garden. From the southern tip of Manhattan to the northern reaches of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, school gardens of all shapes and sizes are flourishing. Teachers are able to utilize the gardens to help students apply what they have learned in the classroom to everything from science and math to foreign languages, nutrition, health and even music. After-school programs in urban planning, environmental studies and urban farming are able to utilize the gardens as teaching tools, and summertime gardening programs are able to continue to harvest fresh vegetables through the peak growing season. Students report that they feel more enthusiastic about learning when they can see how it applies in "the real world," teachers report that the students feel a deep sense of personal responsibility and pride that their school has a garden and an overall greater interest in subjects where the garden is utilized. We are also told that having a school garden creates a sense of community within the school and also with the community at large as neighbors stop by to find out what the kids are doing in the garden.

Don’t see your school garden on the list or want to start one at your school? Visit Grow to Learn to read all about the benefits of registration at our website www.growtolearn.org, view Success Stories for some inspiration about what a school garden can look like, or get Step-by-Step help to learn how to start a garden at a school of your own. You can also find us on Facebook!

Starting a school garden is an incredibly rewarding endeavor; get started now and perhaps yours can be garden #201!

Support Teen Farmers - Get a Calendar!

Order your beautiful, colorful and informative 2012 Endangered Species calendar, designed by high school students from the South Bronx today.

10 talented Morrisania-based teens and Learn it, Grow It, Eat It program interns designed a calendar featuring endangered species. As part of our year-round program, 200 teens get outside for hands-on gardening, learn about healthy eating and make the connection between health, nutrition and environment.

You will receive a calendar for your donation of $25 dollars. Make sure you designate "Environmental Education" and type "2012 Calendar" in the Dedication box when you make your gift and we’ll send you a calendar.

Donate here and receive your calendar!

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