4 New Gardens Bloom in NYC

July 5, 2016
Posted in Community Gardens

GrowNYC's garden program has had a busy first half of 2016! 

Among other things, we've built four new community gardens, totaling 40,000 square feet of new open space.  Here's the skinny:

 

Windmill Community Garden

Windmill Community Garden
A vacant lot in Long Island City - who would have thought? We worked with a great neighborhood association and adjacent school on building out this 2,500 square foot space with raised beds, a shed, and, you guessed it, a windmill!  Lots more to come from this space in the 2nd half of 2016.
 

 

400 Montauk Avenue Community Garden

400 Montauk Community Garden
An existing garden in East New York, Brooklyn that had been extinct for several years, we started the year with a rubble-filled lot and, a few weeks later, had a total renewal - 20 new raised beds, picnic tables and garden benches, and more!  

 

Warwick Street Community Garden

Warwick Street Community Garden
Another extinct community garden in East New York that we worked with a host of community partners on identifying, organizing, designing, and building a new garden on a completely vacant space.  Now features raised beds, picnic tables, a shed, and, most importantly, plants! More info

 

United We Stand Community Garden

United We Stand Community Garden
4 contiguous community gardens flourished for 30 years until they were decimated by fire in the Winter of 2014.  Flash forward to this February, and we'd worked with the garden groups and the Parks Department to tear all the internal garden fences down, clear the entire site, and start working on a design for 1 large united community garden that spans an entire block between 137th and 138th Streets in the South Bronx.  

Halfway through 2016, we've built 50 raised beds, a dozen picnic tables, a new shed, and a pathway linking the two streets.  We can't wait to put the finishing touches on the garden this summer!  

Volunteer Profile: Jonathan Kong

July 4, 2016
Posted in Community Gardens

Volunteers are a major source of strength for nonprofits and GrowNYC is fortunate to have the time, effort and talents of so many dedicated New Yorkers. Whether they are corporate groups giving back to the community by helping with a garden build for a neighborhood or school or a single individual who feels passionate about what GrowNYC does, we are extremely grateful.  Want to volunteer with GrowNYC?

Jonathan Kong started volunteering with GrowNYC in 2014, quickly establishing himself as a tireless worker and enthusiastic supporter of all things GrowNYC.  But in 2016, Jonathan has taken things to a new level: Creating and undertaking The Greenmarket Challenge: a quest to volunteer at all 54 Greenmarket farmers markets in 1 year.  

We spoke with Jonathan what inspires him, which Greenmarket is his favorite, and much more:
 

How long have you been volunteering with GrowNYC?

This is my third year.

What is it about GrowNYC that inspires you to work with us?

I really like the environment, working outdoors, getting to interact with the public, doing hands-on activities such as the cooking demos, and learning something new about myself everyday.

Favorite activity when volunteering?

Cooking demos are always fun to do because I get to see the actual ingredients I'm using and use them with the recipe. Outreach is great since I get to see the diversity of people who live in different neighborhoods.

How many different Greenmarket locations have you volunteered at?

So far about 30, but I plan to volunteer at all of them by the end of this year.

Do you have a favorite Greenmarket?

I like Union Square a lot because there's a lot of different activities going on down there and it's really easy to get to. I also have favorite markets for each region: Forest Hills for Queens, Columbia for Upper Manhattan, Tompkins for Lower Manhattan, Fort Greene for Brooklyn, and Parkchester for Bronx.

Favorite fruit and/or vegetable?

I tend to go for tropical fruits like mangos, pineapples and coconuts, but they don't sell them at the markets.

What would you tell someone who was considering volunteering with GrowNYC?

Volunteering with GrowNYC will help you improve your social skills, build confidence in yourself, and feel comfortable working with other people.                                                                                                                         

GrowNYC Builds 7 new gardens in 2015!

December 17, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

GrowNYC's garden program had an eventul 2015, full of new gardens, rejuvenations of existing spaces, and several innovative garden projects that help make New York a greener city.

We built 7 new community gardens this year, giving the city 80,000 square feet of new open space.  These new gardens include:

Additionally, our garden program did major rejuvenation projects on 7 community gardens and 1 school gardens, totaling 72,000 square feet of existing green space that was transformed.  All of this work is done alongside great partners, including GreenThumb, 596 Acres, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, FDNY, and New York Botanical Garden's Bronx Green Up.  

Throughout 2015, GrowNYC built 12 new green infrastructure elements in gardens, including:

  • 10 new rainwater harvesting systems, in Crotona Park East (BX) East Harlem (MN), Governors Island, Greenpoint (BK), Mott Haven (BX), and Park Slope (BK).
  • 1 new bioswale, in East Harlem.
  • A new aquaponic shipping container at an urban farm in Far Rockaway.

GrowNYC completed our second year of programming at Governors Island Teaching Garden, an urban farm that provides free educational programming for public schools students and summer camp groups from March to November, as well as holds open hours for the general public on weekends during the general Governors Island open season.  

We made some great additions to our farm space in 2015, including a high tunnel greenhouse, a solar oven, a rain garden, and several rainwater harvesting systems.

This year's Governors Island Teaching Garden programming included:

  • Working with more than 2,500 kids from more than 60 school groups
  • Interacting with more than 5,000 visitors from the general public during weekend open hours.

This fall, GrowNYC helped build T5 Farm at JetBlue's Terminal 5 at JFK Airport.  The 24,000 square foot farm features more than 4,000 recycled milk crates growing blue potatoes - the same variety that TERRA gives away on JetBlue flights - as well as other herbs and vegetables.  T5 Farm was created in collaboration with GrowNYC Partners, a consultancy arm of GrowNYC that returns profits to the mission-based activities of GrowNYC - like the 7 new gardens we built this year.

We also continued our efforts to bring community gardening to affordable housing developments.  2015 marked our fourth year of working at Via Verde, where a 5,000 square foot rooftop garden is enjoyed by the building's residents.  GrowNYC also ran seasonal workshops about gardening, healthy eating, and much more.

In Long Island City, GrowNYC helped to design a 2,300 square foot rooftop farm on top of Queens' newest affordable housing complex, Hunter's Point South. The farm features 13 oversized raised beds and a beehive, and will also host a GrowNYC-run Fresh Food Box for building residents.

We'll be back working at T5 Farm, Via Verde, and Hunter's Point South in 2016, working to continue bringing innovative programming to each one.  We can't wait!

 

Prepare for Possible Weather Events with our Resilient NYC Community Garden Guide

October 1, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

In light of recent forecasts, which include the possibility of Hurricane Joaquin making landfall over the Eastern United States next week, GrowNYC is advising gardeners to consult our 2014 publication Resilient NYC Community Garden Guide

The guide, published in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, is a practical manual on making your garden more resilient, including step-by-step guidelines to minimizing storm damage.

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!

GrowNYC Builds 9 New Rainwater Harvesting Systems

September 11, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

This Spring and summer GrowNYC completed several new rainwater harvesting projects and updated several existing ones.

At Governors Island Teaching Garden, we installed 3 systems from a child sized shade structure that collects into 2 - 5 gallon containers and allows children to open and close valves which divert the flow of water either to the containers, a see through hose or a drain to the adjacent rain garden. 

To collect rainfall from the adjacent former Coast Guard housing, a 500 gallon tank was installed to collect from a large area of roof and two 50 gallon barrels collect from a smaller roof area. A flow meter was installed on the 500 gallon tank to monitor water usage. These installations were completed using funding provided by the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute through a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. 6,000 visitors have interacted with the Green Infrastructure projects on Governors Island this season.

At  the Brook Park Community Garden in the Bronx, GrowNYC worked on a week long effort with  community gardeners and volunteers from In Good Company to install 3  new rainwater systems. A 1000 gallon cistern captures rainfall from the downspout of an adjacent home, a 250 gallon tank collects from an existing shed and 2 - 50 gallon barrels store water captured from a chicken coop.

GrowNYC staff worked with 10 youth aged 14 to 18 from Brotherhood Sister Soul in West Harlem to repair an existing rainwater system and install a new system in the Frank White Garden. Each system has 100 gallon storage and collects from existing shade structures in the garden. The youth learned about the New York City combined sewer system as well as getting hands on building experience  developing pollution prevention solutions.

GrowNYC staff completed a shade structure in the Morning Glory Garden in the Bronx which collects rainwater into a 300 gallon tank.

A new 300 gallon tank was installed at the Greenspace on Fourth Garden in Brooklyn. This new garden on land atop a water tunnel access site is a native plant garden where the gardeners installed a rain garden in collaboration with Brooklyn GreenBridge . The overflow from the rainwater system is diverted to the rain garden.

A 1000 gallon rainwater system at the St. John Cantius Garden in East New York, Brooklyn was reconnected to the adjacent building after it had been disconnected due to a change of ownership of the building.

These new and reconnected systems now bring the total number of rainwater harvesting systems in New York City Community Gardens to over 140 systems with the capacity to collect more than 1.5 million gallons of rainfall per year. An interactive map of these gardens and all rainwater harvesting sites can be found here.

Grow to Learn's How-To Gardening Series

May 21, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

Grow to Learn helps New York City schools to build and expand school gardens that are sustainable, responsive to their communities, and transformative for student learning. With over 500 schools in our network across all five boroughs, Grow to Learn has been thinking hard about how to continue to grow new gardens while still providing the hands-on technical assistance that existing school gardens need.

Our amazing staff have been planning, filming, and editing these short instructional videos for school gardeners. We plan to have a full suite of instructional ‘how-to’s’, addressing everything from building basic gardening structures to safe tool use to seasonal organic gardening practices.

Check out our first two installments: How to Build a Raised Bed and Best Practices: the Power Saw and make sure you check back for more in coming weeks!

The Season Begins at Governors Island Teaching Garden

April 27, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

A new season of garden-based programming for public school students has begun on GrowNYC’s Governors Island Teaching Garden.  From April to November, we'll teach thousands of kids about where their food comes from and how to cook simple and nutritious recipes using garden-grown produce.

Among our newest additions to the garden is a solar cooker, made by our friends at GoSol, a Finnish social enterprise devoted to spreading the knowledge of how to build low-tech, high power solar concentrators. 

GoSol is currently crowdfunding to publish free construction guides, launch projects and create an online hub where people around the world can participate in the open development of these sustainable energy technologies. Read more about their great work at www.gosol.org/FreeTheSun.

Last week in the garden, we had a spectacularly clear day and were able to use the solar cooker with a group of high school students. We chopped green beans and mixed them with oil and spices in a frying pan. We then placed the pan on the solar cooker and asked two students to help use the cooker’s lever to move its giant wall of mirrors into place.  

Within a few seconds of aligning the mirrors, enough light from the sun was reflected to the cook surface to cause the beans to start to sizzle!

GrowNYC's garden program profiled on BBC Radio

January 5, 2015
Posted in Community Gardens

GrowNYC's Marcel Van Ooyen, Lenny Librizzi, and Shawn Brody were interviewed by BBC Radio's Food Programme. As part of a larger audio piece, GrowNYC contributed comments on the role that a urban agriculture and community gardens play in promoting healthy eating in NYC.  

Listen to the piece on BBC Radio.

Governors Island Teaching Garden: A Year in Review

December 8, 2014

During our inaugural season, GrowNYC's Governors Island Teaching Garden, a dedicated multi-use learning and demonstration garden space within Governors Island Urban Farm, hosted 16 weeks of garden-based educational programming and skill-building workshops for 4500 school children, school and community gardeners, summer camps, and members of the public.

During the Fall 2014 school semester, the Teaching Garden provided 500 NYC public school students (K-12) the opportunity to dig in and connect to nature through urban agriculture, environmental education, and nutritional learning, by growing, harvesting, cooking, and eating farm-fresh produce. Students engaged in in-depth discussions of plant care, ecosystems, food justice, and healthy living.

Students also had the opportunity to make a healthy snack or beverage on the bicycle blender! Along with a range of public schools from all five boroughs, we had the honor of providing programming to some very special groups such as Lighthouse Guild, Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), and Rush Philanthropic. We also had the privilege of having GrowNYC’s own Mike Zamm come out one day to work with High School students making solar ovens.

In addition to hosting visiting school age students, the Teaching Garden was also open to the public during summer weekends. During these weekend open hours, 3,600 public visitors were able to take a self-guided tour of the space, drop-in on scheduled structured gardening activities, or taste produce from the garden during cooking demos. These activities included garden maintenance, (weeding, mulching, planting), harvesting, tours, and other hands-on arts activities.

On selected weekends during the summer, the Teaching Garden also hosted specific workshops and activities, include ones on animal care, making herbal teas, building trellising for peas, and vertical pallet garden construction. Weekend visitors were also able to see demonstrations of many of the garden and greening infrastructure elements that GrowNYC has built in the past three decades throughout the city. These included raised plastic lumber frame beds for edibles, ornamentals, and themed gardens; windrows for urban agricultural production; a shade structure; a rainwater harvesting system; a garden shed; mulched paths; easy to construct benches; fruit trees; season extending high- and low-tunnels; cold-frames; composting bins; recycling bins; a rain garden; stoop railing planters; and examples of enhanced tree pits for homes, gardens, and communities.

In total, the Teaching Garden produced a bounty of fruits, vegetables, and herbs -- much of it grown by children – totaling over 800 pounds. Most of this produce was harvested, cooked, and consumed by visiting school groups as part of Teaching Garden’s educational programming. Leftover produce was donated to city food pantries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We're Spicing Up The City With The Bronx Hot Sauce!

November 10, 2014

This is a momentous year for GrowNYC. Our gardens have released their very own product, aptly named "The Bronx Hot Sauce," which hit shelves late last month. The fiery green condiment was concocted by acclaimed chef King Phojanakong, a native of the borough - just like the serrano peppers the sauce is made of. 

Packaged by Farm to Table Co-Packers and wrapped in a sticker designed by John Jaxheimer, the sauce is the result of GrowNYC's collaboration with Small Axe Peppers, who donated 3,500 pepper seedlings earlier this year, and R&R Produce Farms, who augmented the supply for peppers needed for the first production of the hot sauce. R&R Produce Farms happens to be one of our FARMroots program's most notable success stories (the program provides training and support for recent immigrants looking to farm in the Northeast).

With the fiery contents of this five ounce glass bottle, the Bronx officially asserts itself as the next big culinary destination for local food in the five boroughs. "I'm thrilled to see our developers and community gardens join together on this wonderful venture," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "The Bronx has an amazing food culture, and 'The Bronx Greenmarket Hot Sauce' will only add to the great flavors our borough produces each and every day. GrowNYC and Small Axe Peppers have developed a product that not only tastes great, but also supports our local community gardens. That's a 'win-win' for our borough, and I hope epicureans from all over the region enjoy our borough's latest food creation." Hooray for the Bronx!

Moreover, the funds from The Bronx Hot Sauce sales will go right back to maintaining and developing our local gardens - in one delicious, sustainable cycle. We are proud of our gardens and everyone who has worked hard to make this product a reality. "GrowNYC's Greenmarkets have always been the best source for locally grown food fresh from the farm," says our Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. "Now, through this partnership with Small Axe Peppers, we are furthering our support of local farmers by purchasing their products and turning them into a delicious hot sauce that can be enjoyed by all New Yorkers." 

We hope you grab your own bottle of The Bronx Hot Sauce and try it on a recipe soon. It's sure to warm you right up this winter! You can find The Bronx Hot Sauce in these locations, with many more to come:

See where you can buy the hot sauce at BronxHotSauce.com.

Check out The Bronx Hot Sauce in the press: The New York Daily News and The Wall Street Journal.

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