Our 100th Community Garden - Jackson Forest

October 16, 2017
Posted in Community Gardens

Drum roll please…

GrowNYC is proud to announce that we have completed our 100th community garden -- Jackson Forest Community Garden!

 

 

The Jackson Forest site has been home to a garden since 1983. After a building was demolished, the lot was an eyesore – it was a mess and full of trash. The community cleared out the lot and began planting, and the site became a GreenThumb garden in 1991. It flourished – it was full of trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. A true community space, gardeners at Jackson Forest would often leave extra produce near the entrance so neighbors walking by could grab fresh vegetables. In 2008, the garden closed to build a new retaining wall and an iron fence and install a permanent water source. The garden had to be demolished in the process, and the renovations ended up taking longer than expected, while the anxious gardeners had no access to the site.

Jackson Forest Community Garden was recently rebuilt by the GrowNYC Gardens team, along with help from corporate volunteers from BrainPOP, Morgan Stanley, and KPS Advisors. It was a lot of hard work! They mulched, raked, spread soil, and built new garden beds, tables, and benches for community members to enjoy.

The gardeners have been working on getting the garden back up and running and so far have grown cucumbers, okra, peaches, and lots of tomatoes! Students from the nearby school come to take care of their two beds and learn about the science of gardening and composting. Next spring, the gardeners plan to throw a big opening party to welcome the neighborhood back to the garden. In the future, the gardeners hope that Jackson Forest will again be a community meeting space, to offer fresh produce to the neighbors, and to teach classes for children on weekends.

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“Thanks to [GrowNYC staffer] Mike, we have a lot of benches, we have a lot of tables where the community can come sit, read the newspaper, just get in touch with nature.” - community gardener Marie Brook
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GrowNYC is so honored to call the Jackson Forest Community Garden our 100th garden. The dedicated spirit and joy of the community gardeners at Jackson Forest are a shining example of how important places like this are for a neighborhood. Today, this garden’s beauty shows what can be accomplished when we work together! 

You can be proud knowing that all the achievements of our Gardens program were made possible with support from people like you. We never would have been able to do it without help from our many donors, especially the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation. Since September, you helped to raise $41,592 for the New Garden Fund. That’s $11,592 over our goal! You’ve helped establish the foundation for our Gardens program to continue building the NEXT 100 gardens that serve communities like yours all around the city. 

Thank you so much to everyone who believed in our vision and helped contribute! We couldn’t do it without you!

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Want to stay involved? Visit our website to learn more about our Gardens program, find a community garden near you, receive our community gardens newsletter, or sign up to volunteer

 

100 Gardens - Honoring Lys McLaughlin Pike

October 16, 2017

Lys McLaughlin, 1982 at Amboy Neighborhood Garden

Marian Heiskell, GrowNYC’s founder, left, and Lys, right, in 1986 at Brooklyn’s first Lots-for-Tots park/playground.

 

So many people have contributed to GrowNYC’s commitment to community greening over the years. We could not have reached our 100th garden milestone without them.

Lys McLaughlin Pike was the Executive Director of GrowNYC (formerly the Council on the Environment) from 1978 to 2006. Before Lys became a passionate environmentalist, she traveled extensively. She studied at the Interpreter's School in Rome and classical civilizations at NYU; she worked on archaeological excavations in Israel and Turkey; she did public relations for the Institute for the Arts at Rice University, the Rothko Chapel, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and other arts organizations. At GrowNYC, Lys was instrumental in establishing the Gardens program, Greenmarket, and numerous other programs and projects. Lys was always a trailblazer; in the early 70’s, way before it was popular to do so, she was a champion of cautioning against the use of pressure treated wood, and of the importance of testing soils for heavy metals in edible gardens.

Though she has retired, she has not stopped her conservation efforts. Today she serves on GrowNYC's board. She works on her family’s land in Midcoast Maine, upon which she has placed a conservation easement, and she also serves on the board of the local land conservation group which holds the easement. She is also a member of the local Lakes and Ponds Committee.

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This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! 

But these stories are far from over

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

100 Gardens - Protests of the 1999 Garden Auction

October 10, 2017

NYC's community gardens haven't always been so idyllic!

Many of New York City’s community gardens got their start in the 1970s as residents, in an effort to revitalize their neighborhoods, began to reclaim vacant and trash-filled lots and turn them into beautiful, safe, fresh food producing community centers. These lots, however, were owned by the city, and despite the decades of work that went into them, in May of 1999 Mayor Giuliani decided to put more than 100 community gardens up for auction to build affordable housing.

Gardeners were outraged. Community members came together with nonprofits and land trust organizations, some of them newly formed to combat this issue, to bring lawsuits against the city and organize protests, parades, and acts of nonviolent disobedience.

As Jane Weissman, Director of GreenThumb from 1984-1998 put it, “For 20 years prior, when funding for housing development was not available, community gardens flourished, beautifying, stabilizing, and revitalizing their neighborhoods. And yet, the city is willing to sacrifice these gardens without holding any kind of formal review.”

In November of 1999, the cherished 22 year old Esperanza Garden in the East Village was threatened with development. As the case was being argued in court, protesters occupied the garden space around the clock for months to protect it from destruction. They stood sentry overnight in a large coqui frog sculpture (a Puerto Rican symbol to ward off foes). In February of 2000, things came to a head. More than 100 protesters came to the garden to demonstrate, chaining themselves to concrete blocks and fence posts and chanting songs. The police broke their way through, arrested 31 protestors, and in 15 minutes the bulldozer had completely destroyed the garden.

During the destruction, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer successfully procured a restraining order against the city to protect the gardens up for auction, but it came too late to save Esperanza. Spitzer argued that the lots should be considered parks, which can only be sold after an environmental review or by the state legislature’s approval.

While not all of NYC’s community gardens were spared, the protests brought international and national attention to their value, and many were saved. The day before the auction of the remaining 114 community gardens, the Trust for Public Land and the New York Restoration Project bought them, saving them from destruction. In 2002, Mayor Bloomberg and Attorney General Spitzer negotiated the Community Gardens Agreement, preserving an additional 198 gardens, subjecting 110 to review before development, and sentencing 38 to development.

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This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! 

But these stories are far from over

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

Harvest Dinner at Project Farmhouse

October 6, 2017
Posted in Greenmarket

On Thursday, November 2, join GrowNYC for the next installment of our Greenmarket Seasonal Dinner Series!  Grab your passport because the theme for this seated, four-course feast, prepared by a coterie of celebrated NYC chefs, is International Harvest.

The menu will feature passed hors d’oeuvres from Chef Ron Rosselli of Bowery Road, a Mexican dish created and prepared by James Beard-award-winning Chef Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme, a Dominican course from Chef Charles Rodriguez of PRINT., Icelandic fare from Michelin-starred Agern's Chef Gunnar Gislason, and a Serbian dessert from Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern's Pastry Chef, Miro Uskokovic. 

Harvest Dinner: International Cooking with Local Ingredients 
by Greenmarket/GrowNYC
WHEN: Thursday, November 2
WHERE: GROWNYC'S PROJECT FARMHOUSE, 76 East 13th Street
6pm-9pm: Harvest Dinner Fundraiser: International Cooking with Local Ingredients, benefiting GrowNYC's Project Farmhouse 

Individual Ticket, $300
Event Sponsor (includes 10 tickets), $5000
Or make a donation of any amount!
*The non-deductible portion of each ticket is $150, as this reflects the fair market value of goods and services to be provided at the event.

This fundraiser is the second in the Greenmarket Seasonal Dinner Series at GrowNYC's Project Farmhouse and will allow GrowNYC to continue working with partner organizations to offer Project Farmhouse as an educational space used for youth programming, panel discussions, film screenings, and networking events focused on a just and sustainable local food system.

Can't make it but want to make a donation to GrowNYC? Thank you, please do that here

100 Gardens - Garden Preservation Efforts

October 5, 2017

In the 80’s and 90’s, community gardeners, green non-profits, and newly emerging local garden coalitions were fighting to save community gardens from destruction. New garden preservation strategies were put in place, generated in earlier days from the Mayor’s Open Space Task Force, which included long term leases, adjacent site status for some gardens, restricted auction, and reserve funds for purchasing threatened open spaces. One of these funds was the Garden and Park Preservation Fund, established in 1988 through a collaboration between the Trust for Public Land, GrowNYC, the Division of Real Property, the Green Guerillas and GreenThumb.

Many of the present day NYC community gardens were originally placed in these preservation categories.

Parque de Tranquilidad, on the Lower East Side, was in danger of being destroyed. After years of negotiating with public and private landowners, using resources from the Garden and Park Preservation Fund, it was bought and preserved by the Trust for Public Land.

 

Another example was the Amboy Neighborhood Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn. It served as a child care center, making it a valued neighborhood resource. It was deemed worthy of being protected and was the first garden given adjacent site status, and thus exists to this day.

 

 

The 1100 Bergen Street Community Garden became the first well-known land trust site in NYC. With legal assistance and negotiating help from the Trust for Public Land, this block association purchased the garden property from the city for 10% of the real property market value.

Lorna Johnson from Bergen Street, Francoise Cachelin from Creative Little Garden, Anne Boster from Parque de Tranquilidad, Olean For from All People’s Garden, the late Penny Evans from Miracle Garden, and of course, Liz Christy, GrowNYC’s first Gardens Director, were just a few of the women and men who fought drug dealers in the 70’s and developers in the 90’s to ensure that future generations had these gardens to enjoy in 2017.

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This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! 

But these stories are far from over

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

Community Garden Transformations

October 3, 2017

Since 1979, GrowNYC's Gardens program has helped build 100 new community gardens, and rebuild and support countless more! Here are some of our best garden transformations!

 

 

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

100 Gardens - Remembering Kevin Shank

September 26, 2017
Kevin C. Shank in the Miracle Garden on the Lower East side, Manhattan, 1987.

 

The AIDS Memorial quilt for Kevin Shank displayed in Washington, D.C.

 

A well-traveled plantsman with an extensive background in horticulture, Kevin C. Shank left his mark on the NYC community gardening scene. He served as GrowNYC’s Gardens Director from 1985-88, and was Vice Chairman of the Green Guerillas, with a heroic dedication towards revitalizing NYC through community gardening. After graduating from SUNY Delhi and Cornell University, Kevin was the Founding Horticulturist at the Pinkerton Garden for the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in Manhattan. This intergenerational community garden included a state-of-the-art greenhouse and a rigorous after-school program for inner-city kids.  After this, Kevin moved on to the Group Live-In Experience Farms, which was the talk of the town in the late 80s in NYC. Growing and packaging fresh herbs for high-end restaurants in a state-of-the-art greenhouses in the South Bronx was unheard of then. Kevin went on to put his expert plantsmanship to good use in his final days as Senior Horticulturist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, on the Upper West Side. He will be forever remembered as one of the great contributors to the NYC community gardening community.

 

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This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! 

But these stories are far from over

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

100 Gardens - Marian Heiskell, GrowNYC's "Living Landmark"

September 19, 2017
Marian S. Heiskell (center holding bouquet), along with parents, students, and representatives of the Salvation Army, GrowNYC and the Midtown West School.

       

Marian S. Heiskell Garden, 315 West 48th Street, completed in 1997.

 

It’s been almost 50 years since Marian Heiskell accepted Mayor Lindsay’s nomination to become Chair of GrowNYC! A forward-thinking conservationist who didn’t believe “urban environment” was an oxymoron but an opportunity, she worked tirelessly to convince fellow New Yorkers of the same. Since that time, Marian has made countless efforts to preserve New York’s green space, earning the honor of the title “Living Landmark” and a park named after her! Today she serves as Honorary Chairman on the board of GrowNYC.

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This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! 

But these stories are far from over

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

100 Gardens - Thank you to Richard Abrons

September 12, 2017

Richard Abrons, Liz Christy, and former Mayor Ed Koch (holding a zucchini) at a Plant-A-Lot Garden opening in the early 1981.

Richard Abrons has been one of GrowNYC’s gardens’ greatest supporters.

In 1978, Richard and Liz Christy founded Plant-A-Lot (PAL), a material and technical resource for underserved neighborhoods where volunteers devoted years of sweat equity to convert vacant lots into community gardens. Richard and Liz partnered on 17 projects before Liz passed away in 1989.

PAL is active today and leveraged millions of dollars of private funding for many of the community gardens and park playgrounds known as Lots-for-Tots throughout the five boroughs. A New York City treasure, Richard is a generous philanthropist, serves on the board of GrowNYC, and is also an author and playwright! Thank you, Richard!

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This fall GrowNYC will build its 100th community garden. To celebrate, we are sharing stories from GrowNYC gardening history! We are so honored to have Liz Christy as part of our story.

But these stories are far from over

You can help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to green space by making a donation today to GrowNYC's New Garden Fund.

 

Announcing the Third Annual JetBlue BlueBud Mentoring Program

September 4, 2017
Posted in GrowNYC

Announcing the Third Annual JetBlue BlueBud Mentoring Program

JetBlue is partnering with GrowNYC for the selection process to connect with food and beverage businesses focused on sustainable sourcing and social responsibility. The company selected for this year’s BlueBud mentoring program will participate in a mentorship initiative that includes:

  • Access to JetBlue teams including Strategic Sourcing, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Communications and Marketing, Brand and Onboard Product
  • A trip to JetBlue’s orientation in Orlando to understand JetBlue’s culture and values
  • A speaker and taste-testing event opportunity for JetBlue crewmembers at the airline’s Queens, NY Support Center
  • Travel certificates for travel to and from New York City for sessions with relevant JetBlue leaders and business partners
  • A tour of JetBlue’s Long Island City, NY Support Center, JetBlue’s home terminal – T5 at JFK Airport, and an airline catering station to understand how food gets onboard

Applications are now open: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/bluebud2017

Previous winners were The Bronx Hot Sauce and Hot Bread Kitchen. Full information on the opportunity can be found on the JetBlue website: http://www.mediaroom.jetblue.com/investor-relations/press-releases/2017/07-27-2017-201536570

 

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