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!

The New Greenmarket Cookbook is here!

Just in time to guide you through the abundance of summer at Greenmarket, with bright berries, crisp pole beans, and every size, shape and color of heirloom tomato, The New Greenmarket Cookbook has arrived!

Written by Gabrielle Langholtz, the book shares recipes from 100 of our favorite chefs. These dishes spotlight seasonal, local ingredients – from fluke to freekeh to fingerlings - available at what Chef Michael Anthony calls, "one of our most precious resources in New York City."

Beyond recipes, the book offers 20 stories of Greenmarket farmers, fishers, millers, sugarmakers and beekeepers. Nevia No of Bodhi Tree Farm divulges the secrets behind her impeccable farmstand, and Chip Kent of Locust Grove Fruit Farm tells tales of Union Square’s local color in the early days of Greenmarket. The chefs within the book’s pages are some of these farmers’ very best customers, encouraging them to grow new things and eagerly gobbling up the farmers’ own experiments. The New Greenmarket Cookbook celebrates these relationships as well as providing delicious recipes simple enough for the home cook.

You’ll find it at every retailer and at your neighborhood Greenmarket. Keep checking this page for details, and happy cooking!

Greenmarket Schedule Changes April 19th & 20th

Due to the Easter holiday this coming weekend, the following changes will be made to the Greenmarket schedule. 

If a market is OPEN, food scrap collections and/or textile recycling will resume normal hours. If a market is CLOSED, there will be no food scrap collections and/or textile recycling. 

82nd Street Greenmarket (Saturday, Manhattan) - CLOSED
Tompkins Square Greenmarket (Sunday, Manhattan) -  RESCHEDULED to Saturday, April 19th - food scrap collections and textile recycling will be open Saturday.
79th Street Greenmarket (Sunday, Manhattan) - OPEN
Columbia University Greenmarket (Sunday, Manhattan) - OPEN
Carroll Gardens Greenmarket (Sunday, Brooklyn) - CLOSED
Cortelyou Greenmarket (Sunday, Brooklyn) - OPEN 
Forest Hills Greenmarket (Sunday, Queens) - OPEN
Jackson Heights Greenmarket (Sunday, Queens) - OPEN

A Volunteer’s View


Ladiny Partoredjo volunteers with
GrowNYC's Office of Recycling
Outreach and Education

Going into CUNY Baruch College, I knew that I wanted to major in psychology. However, it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized what branch of psychology I wanted to pursue. Taking an environmental psychology class in the fall of that year opened my eyes to the problems happening all around us like the issues of littering, climate change, and the fracking of oil and natural gas. Before taking that class, I was completely oblivious about the world around me, and never realized the real importance of the environment. Of course, I didn’t litter but it was simply because I have always had an issue with seeing trash lying on the floor. After taking this class, I realized that this was the branch I wanted to study further in depth; the study of how humans view the environment and how their actions in the environment provide harmful and dire consequences to their health, their lifestyles and everyone around them. I knew that I wanted to make a change in this world, for our future generations to thrive successfully and healthily.

Growing up in Queens, I’ve always perceived New York City as a city that focused so little on making the world greener and more on establishing new businesses and infrastructure for one goal only: money. I perceived people as those who only focused on what is going on today, oblivious to the impacts their actions provide for the future. Earlier in my junior year, I began looking for internships on my school’s website, trying to find opportunities to make New York City greener and eco-friendly. That’s when I stumbled upon a volunteer/internship opportunity with…GrowNYC.

I decided to volunteer with GrowNYC because I knew I wanted to make a difference in this world, and be a part of an organization that is aware of the troubles all around us and promote effective solutions.  One of the things GrowNYC does is bring awareness on the importance of recycling to local residents and local officials. They address many issues that exist within the five boroughs in New York City and provide solutions to take on these issues.

One of the issues they tackled was how much clothes are disposed every year in the trash, instead of being recycled or donated. What I found surprising was that during the course of one year, NYC residents will throw away about 200,000 tons of clothing, from t-shirts to towels to handbags, simply because it is more convenient than going to a thrift store to donate old clothes. GrowNYC has sought to relieve this issue with their weekly textile collections at Greenmarkets throughout the five boroughs and coordinate special one-time collections in apartment buildings, special events, libraries and more. Having interacted with other GrowNYC volunteers and the staff, I was able to learn more about what compels people to participate and see their tremendous dedication in providing solutions that benefit us and the environment.

GrowNYC also works to connect people with resources such as the re-fashioNYC initiative of the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which funds GrowNYC’s recycling programs. Designed to make recycling clothing more convenient, re-fashioNYC places clothing collection bins in residential buildings and services them at no cost.  See how easy it can be to recycle textiles with my infographic!

Regional Grains Project Samples Single Malt at Breuckelen Distilling

 
The Greenmarket Regional Grains Project witnessed accidental greatness recently during a visit to Breuckelen Distilling, where we sampled a fresh batch of single malt whiskey in the company of the masterminds behind its creation: grain farmer Thor Oechsner, maltsters Andrea and Christian Stanley of Valley Malt, and head distiller and owner Brad Estabrooke.
 
"That single malt is certainly the most exciting thing we are doing at the moment," said Brad.
 
And to think that the malt, which Brad called "perfect," came from barley that was all but useless after being pounded by the 2013 rains.
 
Thor credits Andrea for rediscovering the lost art of "providence malting -- an old technique for sprouted barley," he said. "She is the star here. She saved my crop for Brad. She figured out how to work with it."
 
A budding regional grains system at work! Just a few years ago the sprouted barley would have meant a major loss for Thor. Instead, the flourishing new markets of local malt, local whiskey and local beer mean that Thor can remain financially viable, continue feeding the regional demand for grains, and thrive as one of the region's finest farmers. And thanks to people like Andrea, Christian and Brad, that means we drinkers get to taste those grains in our favorite beers and spirits.  
 
Here's the story in Andrea's words....
 
Visiting Breuckelen was the highlight of our visit to Brooklyn where we were able to see our malt in action. Being in a room together with the farmer and distiller is a rare occurrence for me as I am usually just hanging out with my malt, but not always seeing where it goes.
 
The backstory of the barley and the malt we made for Brad was really interesting, or at least interesting if you are a malt nerd like me. 2013 was a cruel year for grains in the Northeast. We were plagued with rain in the most inopportune times, especially right when the barley was supposed to be harvested. Thor's winter barley was beautiful to look at, but under the surface something had happened when all that rain hit it after it had matured. The natural tendency of the barley seed is to sprout and reproduce. However we don't want this to happen in the field, we want it to happen in the malthouse.
 
We identified that Thor's barley had pre-harvest sprouting through a Falling-Numbers test and attempted to malt it with little luck. Textbooks say PHS is a deal breaker for the maltster. The first batches we tried to malt went for animal feed.
 
Then luck struck in November. The barley/malt/whisky Gods decided to intervene. Through the wisdom of a retired maltster, we learned of an adjusted steep schedule that would allow us to malt this PHS barley. We ran a few test batches, got things sprouting and BA-BAM we were making malt from Thor's barley. We sent a few tons to Brad at Breuckelen and he was very happy with the results. In fact the lower PH mash that this malt produced was exactly what he wanted for this single malt whisky. Given the crazy turn of events, I think this should be called Serendipity Single Malt.

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!

Growing Recycling, One Building at a Time

Jamie Towers General Manager, Victor Berrios, stands with the growing piles of recycling.
Photo: Jamie Towers General Manager, Victor Berrios, stands with the growing piles of recycling  

GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education works with apartment buildings throughout the five boroughs to identify their challenges to recycling, improve recycling setup and educate all who live and work in the building.  Take the Jamie Towers Cooperative Apartments, for example.  For the past year, GrowNYC has worked with this 4-building,  600-unit complex in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx. We began with a “chute room makeover” on all floors to ensure that recycling areas had the appropriate signage, labeling, bins and bags. We then provided recycling trainings for all maintenance workers and workshops for building residents, who received sets of our Sort & Store recycling totes to help separate materials in their apartments. With the success of these initiatives, the property has gone from producing two bags of recyclables to a veritable mountain of material recovered for a second life. With our help, the building also established an on-site textile recycling collection and became one of the first buildings in the Bronx to collect electronics through the city’s e-cycleNYC program.  Want help for your apartment building?  Send a message to one of our recycling coordinators!

Drive Change at Union Square Greenmarket

Our friends at Drive Change are at the Union Square Greenmarket today, March 19, promoting their brand new food truck Snowday and maple syrup. Drive Change is a social enterprise with a fleet of food trucks serving delicious, market-inspired menus and supporting their mission to broaden opportunities for young people coming out of adult jail and prison to help lead them to crime-free lives and bright futures. We spoke with the founder, Jordyn Lexton, about what inspired Drive Change, what it is like running a food truck with no food or restaurant background and where she sees the future of the organization.

How did you get from the idea stage of Drive Change to today, with your first truck up and running?
 
For three years, I taught adolescent inmates (ages 16-18) years old on Rikers. During that time, I learned that NY State is one of two states (North Carolina the other) that sets the age of adult criminal responsibility at 16 years old; that means that if you get arrested when your sixteen or older you are automatically considered an adult in the system. As a result, you spend time in adult jail and you are likely to leave with an open felony conviction as opposed to a juvenile adjudication - future job and educational opportunities become restricted post release and recidivism is very high. Adult jail/prison is no place for youth - and I saw too many of my students, who were full of potential and desire to live crime free futures recycle back into the system. They told me they needed real quality jobs and I thought that a opening a business would be a good way to support them financially, provide a source of revenue for potential programing and teach transferable skills. Drive Change was born in concept in Feb 2012 - I left my full time job and set out on a journey to make it happen.
 
Why did you decide a food truck was the best way to connect with youth just out of prison? 
 
The answer to this question is tri-fold: 
 
1. MOBILITY AND VISIBILITY - I like the idea that the truck would be able to move to different areas and connect with the NYC public. I liked this for two reasons: 1. We could communicate advocacy around the age of criminal responsibility and other criminal justice issues to more New Yorkers to inspire community involvement; 2. The truck becomes a place for socialization and connection which is good both for the young people we are working with but also for the public at large - we believe that by being visible and hospitable we dismantle preconceived notions that people have about formerly incarcerated people. 
 
2. THE FOOD INDUSTRY - As Chef Roy acknowledges often food has a transformative power - it can transcend race, class and cultural divide. At Drive Change and by extension, at Snowday, we embrace the philosophy of the communal table. Over meals, people connect, forge empathy and change evolves organically. The food industry also happens to be an industry that is receptive to hiring people with criminal records - it is traditionally a place where people can rise through the ranks without formal education and still be deemed "successful" and valuable. 
 
3. TRANSFERABLE SKILLS - At Drive Change, we teach transferable skills through the mechanism of the food truck work. I realized early on that recidivism is not combated simply with employment; we must provide more than just a job to the young people that we work with. The food truck industry is creative, it is rooted in transferable skill learning around the areas of social media and marketing (you have to know Twitter well and keep you digital life active to be successful), money management and accounting (we will use our POS system as a tool to teach young people about financial management and small business ownership) and hospitality. Culinary arts will be taught as well, but hospitality is our pulse. It is with hospitality - the kind that, as Danny Meyer describes, exists purely when you believe the other person is "on your side" - that we will be able to guide all of our practice and create opportunities for the young people involved. 
 
 
You managed the Kimchi Taco truck to prepare for running Drive Change, what was that experience like for you? Did you have any food or restaurant experience before you started on the food truck?
 
I had ZERO food/restaurant experience before Kimchi Taco, unless you're counting eating. If you're counting eating, I had PLENTY of that. So, I had a taste for it, but I knew that starting a food business with no food management/business experience was beyond lofty, it was illogical. I learned the business, learned how hard it was, figured out what to do about food truck permits, networked with other food truck business owners, got my own licenses and credentials and built a foundation for what kind of food the public would enjoy. The food truck business is a volatile one and we know that even with the preparation we've done we are going to hit roadblocks, but working in the field gave me insight that makes it possible - I speak the language now. 
 
How did you decide on maple syrup to be the theme of your first truck, Snowday?
 
I had one food while traveling in Canada that really blew my mind and got me thinking about starting a food truck: it was sugar on snow. Sugar on Snow is fresh snow with hot maple syrup poured on top. It's awesome and it's really hard to find anyone outside of Canada, Vermont, Upstate NY, New Hampshire. As I began to explore maple syrup, I learned that NY is the third largest producers of the commodity - which is awesome because it allows us to source all of our syrup locally and promote the local product...no more traveling up to Canada for amazing maple syrup! 
 
What are the future plans for Drive Change? Would you ideally like to expand outside of NYC?
 
We see ourselves growing into a fleet of food trucks. We would like to scale about a truck a year. With each truck, we can work with 30 young people per year [and] we see ourselves operating across the county, licensing the model/curriculum and expanding to multiple cities throughout the US (eventually even internationally). We also hope to be full self-sustaining in 5 years, as the sales from the truck(s) recycle back into the organization to subsidize the program costs. We are excited to grow/expand but we recognize that with growth comes shift in modality and our ability to be super hands on. So, while growth may come in time, we are heavily focused on quality over quantity. 
 

 

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