Grow Your Garden with EBT

March 24, 2016

Spring is here and it's time to start getting your backyard and window sill gardens planted! Greenmarket producers offer a variety of plant starts for a small window herb garden or more extensive gardens of fruits and vegetables. Shoppers using their EBT cards are also able to purchase any seeds or plants that produce food. Growing your own food is a great way to have fresh produce on hand even when you can't make it to a Greenmarket. Here are five more reasons why you should grow your own produce:

5 Reasons to Grow Your Own Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs

1.  Improve Your Health
Homegrown vegetables, fruits and herbs are more nutritious than store-bought ones—the less time that passes between harvesting produce and eating it, the fewer nutrients lost. Fresher taste better too!

2.  Know Your Food
The best way to gain control over where your food comes from is to grow it yourself. Growing your own food ensures that your vegetables, fruits and herbs are not exposed to the harmful pesticides or chemical fertilizers that are often used on industrial farms.

3.  Save Money
Growing your food can save you money. Gardens require minimal start-up equipment, and each plant can yield many vegetables and fruits. Compared to the cost of the seeds or seedling, vegetable, fruit, and herb plants are a great bargain.

4.  Teach Your Kids
A great way to teach children about where food comes from or how it’s grown is to show them firsthand. And, you can incorporate science, math, nutrition, and even history lessons—all while playing in the dirt.

5.  Have Fun
Growing food is fun! Watching a seedling transform into an edible plant, nurtured by the sun and your work, is incredibly satisfying. In a time when many of us spend hours in front of a computer every day, the chance to get your hands dirty can be a welcome and fun hobby.

Calling All Artists: GrowNYC Contest

March 22, 2016

Tell Our Story

We are looking for artists to channel their inner environmentalist and create a two-dimensional work of art inspired by GrowNYC's work in NYC: think Greenmarkets, gardens, recycling, compost, habitat, ecosystems and more. 

We'll put your work up for a public vote and present the top ten at our Union Square Greenmarket this May. 3 lucky winners will win prizes!

Enter

Starting March 21, submit your artwork via the linked form below in the following formats: BMP, JPG, PDF, PNG, PSD, TIF. Files should be no larger than 25 MB. Online submissions only. The submission deadline is 12 midnight on April 18. See Rules Here.

*Please note submission does not guarantee entry in the public voting stage of the contest. 

To Enter Click Here

 

Prizes!

First Place: A gourmet four-course Lunch and wine pairing for two at Gotham Bar and Grill + a $100 gift card to Blick Artist Supply + GrowNYC Prize Pack + and your signed artwork or design printed and walking around NYC on limited edition GrowNYC swag + your artwork on display at a one-day GrowNYC event at Union Square Greenmarket in May 2016

Second Place: A $100 gift card to Blick Artist Supply + GrowNYC prize pack +your artwork on display at a one-day GrowNYC event at Union Square Greenmarket in May 2016

Third Place: A $100 gift card to Blick Artist Supply + your artwork on display at a one-day GrowNYC event at Union Square Greenmarket in May 2016

Top 10: Your artwork featured on our voting page and at a one-day GrowNYC event atUnion Square Greenmarket in May 2

New Voices to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

March 3, 2016

The Recycling Champions Program is singing praises to MS 443K New Voices School of Academic & Creative Arts students. The New Voices Green Team hosted a recycling and compost assembly program as part of their 1st organics collection and recycling program in the cafeteria. Later that day all 537 students created only 2 small bags of trash during lunch; everything else was recycled and composted!

Created by the NV Green Team students and Amy Musick, Chorus Teacher and Sustainability Coordinator, thier lively presentation incorporated video, music and live performance. And the results speak for themselves!

Cafeteria Composting/Recycling start date: 2/26/2016
BEFORE: 7 Mixed Trash Cans distributed throughout the cafeteria
AFTER: Compost/Bucket/Tray Stacker Station, plus a Green Bin/Blue Bin

Be a Greenmarket Market Manager!

February 20, 2016

Greenmarket is currently hiring seasonal market managers to manage our 53 Greenmarkets throughout the five boroughs. Click here for the job description, and read below for a first hand account of managing a Greenmarket from former Market Manager, Kathleen Crosby. 

From the streets of New York, our market manager Kathleen Crosby reports back on a typical day in the life managing the Tompkins Square Greenmarket, which has been transforming a corner of the East Village into a neighborhood center of sustainability every Sunday since 1997.

4:45 a.m.: Alarm goes off. I decide not to hit the snooze button this morning, and disable two other back-up alarms. I make a strong cup of tea and breakfast: Ronnybrook maple yogurt with peaches, bee pollen, chia seeds, and grape nuts.

5:25 a.m.: Carry bike downstairs and head off. It is not light out yet and the Brooklyn roads are empty.

6:05 a.m.: I arrive at the market site, before any of the farmers. Humidity is at about 80% and Tompkins is smelling RIPE.

6:50 a.m.: The first producer of the day, Red Jacket Orchards, arrives at market.

7:20 a.m.: I set up the market info table and tent. The Greenmarket van is filled to the BRIM today with equipment. A 40 pound kettle ball falls out as I open the back door, then work to cram my 10x10 ft. tent into a 7 ft. space between a tree and sign post. Decide on which recipes to display and put out our many pamphlets and handouts. Today we’re featuring tomatoes, so I go grab a bunch of heirlooms for a display.

7:50 a.m.: Harry arrives on the scene. Harry is a long time resident of E. 7th St. and knows all the best spots in the East Village. He usually wears a hat that says "stud" but not today. I'm thinking I should get him a little button that says "Honorary Mayor of Tompkins Square." Each week, Harry helps Jimmy Stannard of Stannard Farms set up and break down, gives breaks to workers throughout the day, and greets people he knows well by howling like a wolf. His friend "Red" walks by. He howls and she howls right back.

9:00 a.m.: Plaster farmers' stands with signage promoting EBT, Health Bucks, frequent shopper promotion signs, plus signs about our upcoming Salsa-off event.

9:15 a.m.: Pam from Ronnybrook feeds me ice cream (it's a tradition we have). Today's flavor is stracciatella.

9:30 a.m.: Do the market report. Today, all the farmers have complied with the rules: on time, farm sign out, price signs out, product labels on honey, meat, eggs, etc; tents weighted down, boxes of produce not sitting directly on the ground, meat, eggs and dairy chilled. Everything is in order. While at Norwich Meadow's stand, one of the Tibetan workers hands me a hot samosa.

10:00 a.m.: Quetsy from Meredith's Bakery needs a bathroom break. I sell a few scones and gluten-free loaves of bread.

10:15 a.m.: Now to work on my a-frame sign. First the letters are too big. Erase. Then too small. Erase. A regular comes up and talks to me for 20 minutes about the history of the East Village. How it has changed!

10:30 a.m.: Finish setting up the info table. Grab some peppers and tomatoes to decorate my stand with. Swiping EBT & Debit/Credit cards and giving out tokens and health bucks. Checking off frequent shopper cards. Try to get more people to sign up for the Salsa-off.

10:45 a.m.: Pam literally spoon-feeds me some of her second batch of ice cream, strawberry this time.

11:15 a.m.: A couple of neighborhood residents who are trying to start a CSA next week approach me about fruit. I introduce him to Jimmy Stannard and they work out prices.

11:30 a.m.: Go pick up some ingredients for the cooking demo. Since we're featuring tomatoes, I grab some ripe juicy ones, a few ears of yellow corn, a bag of okra, and some hot and sweet peppers. All donated by the farmers. Arielle, my helper, chops away. I run to the local Chinese take-out join to pick up a quart of rice to serve the dish. We'll call it...a summer stew.

12:00 p.m.: Do a little social media. Walk around and see what looks good. The sun is hitting Norwich Meadow's beautiful tomatoes just right. Post to instagram, check. Post to twitter, check. Post to facebook, check.

12:30 - 2:00 p.m.: Hand out samples into tiny cups until it's all gone. I think we have some okra converts. The key is slice it thin and toss it in the pan for a few seconds at the very end. Man is it getting hot.

2:10 p.m.: Samples are gone. Now we get to lunch. I'm having some zucchini pasta ribbons with basil, almonds and pecorino.

2:45 p.m.: Harry comes over with an idea. He thinks we should put together a little box of goodies from the market and give it to the owner of the Odessa restaurants across the street. The Odessa Cafe and uber dive-y Odessa Bar have long been fixtures of the EV, but unfortunately Odessa Bar had to close its doors a few days ago. The people at Odessa Cafe have been good to the market over the years letting us use their bathroom and serving up cheap iced coffees. I grab a crate from Jimmy and fill it up with an assortment of produce, bread, pie, and juice from all the vendors. Harry escorts me over and introduces me to the owner. He apparently doesn't come to the restaurant often, so I'm glad to have the opportunity to thank him. He happily accepts.

3:30 p.m.: An indie film location scout approaches us about using farmers' stands in a scene they're shooting in Tompkins Square park.

4:00 p.m.: Look at the salsa-off list and 3 more people have signed up!

4:30 p.m.: Haifa from Norwich Meadows finds out that I don't really eat meat. "You'll have an amino acid deficiency when you get older!" she exclaims, and thrusts some chicken into my hands.

4:45 p.m.: City Harvest arrives on the scene. They double park on 7th. I meet this week’s volunteer and give them some bags to collect unsold produce from farmers to donate to pantries.

5:05 p.m.: The first of Toigo's three trucks arrives from Carroll Gardens, soon followed by their second, much larger truck from Stuytown. Pura Vida packs up a little late, so these two trucks are double parked on 7th. I move my van and Acevedo's small truck so I can fit the smaller Toigo truck in.

5:15 p.m.: Pura Vida leaves but Toigo's big truck can't make that wide turn from 7th onto Ave A because of the City Harvest truck that is still double parked. I ask the CH driver if he can kindly go around the block to let Toigo through. He's cool about it.

5:20 p.m.: All the farmers have packed up for the day except for Meredith's, so now it's my turn. Play van-tetris for a half-hour getting all of the weights, tables, tents, bins, a-frames, racks, and banners in order.

5:50 p.m.: Forgot about the a-frame I have on 1st Ave. Run over and pick it up.

6:00 p.m.: Get a few bags of peaches, plums, and nectarines from Toigo, who are usually the last to leave.

6:10 p.m.: Say my goodbyes and start packing my backpack and bike panniers. Got too much stuff again, have to bungee some squash and peppers on the top of my bike rack.

6:15 p.m.: DANG! Somehow a peach got into my bag of EBT supplies and smashed right up against the keys of my terminal. Classic!

Environmental Ambassadors at NYCHA

February 12, 2016
Posted in Recycling | Tagged recycle, volunteer, NYCHA, recycling



Over the past year, an exciting thing has been happening: recycling is rolling out at NYCHA developments citywide.  As a partner in community engagement, GrowNYC has provided recycling education at workshops and events, aiming to change the way more than 400,000 New Yorkers take out the trash. 

This winter, GrowNYC is launching a new volunteer program for NYCHA residents who want to see this program succeed.  Through our Environmental Ambassadors program, we will train volunteers to educate neighbors about recycling at their developments.  After completing two, 2-hour workshops, Environmental Ambassadors conduct 12 hours of local outreach to encourage participation in the NYCHA Recycles! Program.  Volunteer benefits include field trips, gear, gift bags and a certificate of service signed by the DNSY commissioner and a NYCHA executive. 

Live at NYCHA and want to make a positive change where you live?  Learn more and register today!

GrowNYC's zero waste programs funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. 

5 Questions with Mike Rezny, Assistant Director of Open Space Greening

January 7, 2016
Posted in Community Gardens

As part of our end of the year review, we caught up with Mike Rezny, Assistant Director of Open Space Greening at GrowNYC, to talk about the year in urban agriculture, all the new gardens we built, and what's on tap for 2017.

For those that don't know, what does GrowNYC's Open Space Greening program do?

Open Space Greening builds and supports community gardens, urban farms, and school gardens all across New York City.  That includes building farms and Green Thumb gardens on city-owned land, gardens in public housing developments, gardens at NYC public schools, and, one time, a garden at JetBlue's terminal at JFK.  

Most commonly, that means we're working with Green Thumb to identify a vacant lot and working with them and community members to organize a group to steward the space, designing a garden, building garden beds, seating, shade structures, and anything else a garden needs, and turning it over to that neighborhood group who will make their garden into a community hub for growing healthy food, for neighbors to meet one another, and for running public events.

What were some highlights in 2016?

We definitely had a busy year!  We built eight new farms and gardens, creating more than 54,000 square feet of new green space in New York City.  We also renovated more than 20 additional gardens, built 11 rainwater harvesting systems that collect more than 100,000 gallons of water every year, and had our 3rd successful year of our farm on Governors Island where we ran 9 school tours a week from March to November and worked with more than 5,000 NYC schoolchildren.

What was your favorite garden project of the year?

Hard to choose, but it's got to be the 2 new gardens we built in the South Bronx, United We Stand and 138th Street Community Garden.

Note: These gardens were featured in a 2017 New York Times article.

For about 25 years, 4 contiguous gardens thrived on 137th and 138th Street in Mott Haven.  They had hundreds of members, grew an enormous amount of food, and were some of the best known gardens in the city.  Then, in the winter of 2014/2015, a fire broke out in one garden, spread to the other gardens, and decimated all 4 spaces.  Casitas, garden beds, picnic tables, fruit trees -- all ruined.  The gardens were closed for an entire year and everyone that used to enjoy the gardens was really devastated.  

Green Thumb flagged the project for us in February of 2016, and shortly thereafter we took funders and some city agency partners on tours of the space.  We started work in April, our first volunteer groups came in May and we wrapped up construction with a garden opening in September.  So many city agencies helped out - Department of Sanitation cleared the space, the Mayor's Office of Environmental Remediation's Clean Soil Bank brought in 300 cubic yards of fill, and we worked with NYC Parks to run a dozen community design charettes.  

The garden has been an unbelievable success.  Where there were once 4 separate gardens all separated by fences, there is now 1 big space connecting 137th Street to 138th Street in the middle of the block.  There are hundreds of garden members, 80 garden beds growing a ton of food, a huge performance stage, and so many happy people. 

What's next for 2017?

We built one garden with New York City Housing Authority in 2016 and we see lots of great opportunities to build more gardens in public housing in the future. 

There is so much green space around public housing buildings that is just dying to be used.  One unique thing about community gardens is that they give residents the opportunity to design a public space in their own image, to organize how it is managed, and to use the space on their own terms.  The best gardens are extremely reflective of the neighborhoods in which they exist, with young and old people working alongside each other to do something for the entire community to enjoy.  

What kind of support could you use in 2017?

Volunteers have been a huge part of what's made our garden program so efficient in recent years: of the 94 gardens we've built since 1975, 31 have been built in the last 4 years, and a lot of that is thanks to volunteers.  We worked with more than 2700 in 2016 and we can always use more.

The United We Stand and 138th Street Community Garden projects couldn't have been completed without generous funding from companies like Timberland, Heineken, and Samsung, all of whom funded our work and brought hundreds of employees out for volunteer days.  If your company is interested in coming out to volunteer, let us know!

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!

 

Have a More Sustainable Holiday

December 8, 2015

You've made a gift list and planned the menu, now here's your holiday recycling checklist:

  • Wrapping paper, gift boxes, cardboard and other paper packaging can go out with other paper recycling (remove tape, ribbons and other decorations). 
     
  • Eggnog cartons, wine bottles, olive containers, cookie tins and hard-to-open rigid plastic packaging are easy to recycle alongside the rest of your metal, glass, plastic and cartons
     
  • Block Styrofoam and foam peanut packaging are not recyclable, but alternative paper packaging can be included in your recycling pile.  Styrofoam peanuts can be reused, and cornstarch peanuts can be composted. 
     
  • For those so inclined, even corks can be recycled--find drop-sites here 

Visit our Holiday Tips page for post-holiday tree collections, electronics recycling events and community swap events. 

For more tips on keeping your holidays green and merry, visit the NYC ZeroWaste page.

Buy a Local Tree or Wreath at Greenmarkets Across the City

December 7, 2015
Posted in Greenmarket

Get your locally grown Christmas trees, wreaths, and boughs from a local farmer. A list of markets where you can stock up on holiday greens follows:

Christmas Trees
Manhattan:
Union Square SaturdaysKeith's Farm, Trumansburg Tree Farms, Van Houten Farms
Union Square Wednesdays: Keith's Farm, Trumansburg Tree Farms, Van Houten Farms
Union Square Tuesday 12/22 only: Trumansburg Tree Farms
Union Square MondaysVan Houten Farms
Union Square FridaysVan Houten Farms
Tucker Square Thursdays & SaturdaysPrimrose Hill Farm
Brooklyn:
Grand Army Plaza SaturdaysTrumansburg Tree Farms
Brooklyn Borough Hall SaturdaysHurds Family Farm
Fort Greene SaturdaysHurds Family Farm 
Queens
Jackson Heights SundaysPrimrose Hill Farm

Wreaths and Garland
Manhattan:
Union Square SaturdaysJames Durr Wholesale Florist, Fiori Di Fenice, Keith's Farm, Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, The River Garden, Stokes Farm, Trumansburg Tree Farms, Van Houten Farms
Union Square Wednesdays: Keith's Farm, Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, The River Garden, Trumansburg Tree Farms, Van Houten Farms
Union Square Fridays: Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, The River Garden, Van Houten Farms
Union Square Mondays: The River Garden, Van Houten Farms
Union Square Tuesday12/22 only: Trumansburg Tree Farms
Dag Hammarskjold WednesdaysRexcroft Farm
Tucker Square Thursdays & SaturdaysPrimrose Hill Farm, Stokes Farm
Brooklyn:
Brooklyn Borough Hall SaturdaysHurds Family Farm
Fort Greene SaturdaysHurds Family Farm, Rexcroft Farm 
Grand Army Plaza SaturdaysLebak Farms, Trumansburg Tree Farms
Cortelyou SundaysNewgate Farm
Queens: 
Jackson Heights SundaysPrimrose Hill Farm

Make sure to bring your tree to one of the city's mulch fest locations once the season is over. 

Greenmarket Holiday Gift Guide

December 1, 2015
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged greenmarket, holiday, Gifts


Holiday gift shopping for the Greenmarket lover is made easy with this list of popular holiday gifts from Greenmarket producers. Please note, not all of these items are sold at every market location so check the producer line-up to see what products are available at your local Greenmarket.

NON-FOOD ITEMS
Greenmarket Merch: Tote Bags, Bread Bags, Reusable Produce bags, Baby bibs, Tea Towels, Bamboo Spatulas, Note Cards, Mugs, Recipe Cards at Union Square Greenmarket Merch Tent  
Greenmarket Tokens: Wooden tokens can be purchased in $5 increments at the information tent at any Greenmarket using a credit or debit card. Tokens can be used like money at most vendors.
The New Greenmarket Cookbook: Available for sale at Union Square Greenmarket and various other markets, as well as on www.grownyc.org/cookbook.
Soaps 
Sachets, salves, lip balms, lotions, and body oils
Yarn from Catskill Merino, 3-Corner Field Farm, B&Y Farm and Rosehaven Alpaca
Herbal Tinctures from Violet Hill Farm, Thy Herb Collective, Tweefontein Herb Farm 
Wreaths
Decorative Garlic Braids from Keith’s Farm
Poinsettias, Paper Whites, Orchids & Other potted plants
Succulent & Cactus plants

FOOD GIFTS

Jams and Preserves
Hard Cider
Honey 
Wine
Cookies, Pies and Baked Goods
Maple Syrup, Maple Cotton Candy & Maple Candies
The Bronx Hot Sauce Gift Box from GrowNYC
Chicken Liver Bourbon Pâté from Yellow Bell Farms 
Soppresetta from Flying Pigs Farm
Egg Nog from Ronnybrook Farm
Gluten Free Babka from Las Delicias
Spirits: Gin, Corn Whiskey, Vodka, Unaged Single Malt Whiskey from Orange County Distillery
Bison Jerky from Roaming Acres
Beer from From the Ground Brewery including Pale Ale, Stout and Red Ale
Bitters from Violet Hill Farm
Dried & Smoked Chiles from Eckerton Hill and Oak Grove Plantation 

 

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