For a Refreshing Summer, Grow a Smoothie Garden

For a Refreshing Summer, Grow a Smoothie Garden

 

As you walk through New York City, it is hard not to find a store that offers green juices, kale shakes, and fruit smoothies. The health benefits of certain smoothies and juices, particularly green ones, are well-documented and common knowledge. Not only do these nutrient packed cups provide a condensed supply of our daily fruits and vegetables, which can be difficult to get amidst modern living, but they also tend to be quite delicious. At The Hort, we think it’s a great idea to fuse this healthy ‘fast food’ with your horticultural skills to cultivate your very own smoothie garden. Making your own smoothies can be a great way to save money, reduce plastic use, and increase your vitamin intake.

There are many options for what to grow in your smoothie garden. Green vegetables are important main components of any smoothie as they provide energy, stress relief, vitamins, and antioxidants in abundance. Nutrient dense fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries add essential vitamins and sweetness.

When planning your garden this spring, keep these vegetables and fruits in mind for delicious, healthy smoothies:

Vegetables

Celery is a surprisingly healthy vegetable but, fair warning, a bit difficult to grow. It requires copious watering, fertilizer and compost; however, the homegrown stuff tastes unlike anything at the grocery. Not only is celery loaded with anitoxidants, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium, but it also can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Did you know one serving of Broccoli offers roughly 10% of your daily value of protein? It is also chock-full of calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Carrots, being a semi-sweet vegetable, bring a unique flavor and an immunity boost to juices. Studies have shown that eating carrots greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Radish will add a nice spicy bite to your drink, the kind we often get from Ginger. The bright red vegetable is loaded with vitamin C, aids digestions, and known to help prevent viral infections. Don’t forget to add the folic acid-rich radish leaves too!

Fennel is another fantastic taste booster and as a cousin of celery; it has terrific health benefits. Fennel is a digestive aid, skin brightener, and brings a full stalk of antioxidants.

Fruit

Blueberries, America’s second favorite berry, comes with some surprising health benefits. Research has shown that these delicious orbs can benefit the nervous system and improve memory.

Far and away the most popular berry, Strawberries provide many antioxidants and plant compounds, vitamin C and manganese.

Raspberries have been known to increase metabolism in fat cells and help with the digestive process.

Smoothie gardens can be planted in the ground, in pots, or in raised beds — essentially anywhere as long as they are properly cared for and given ample room to grow. Various flower and herbs, such as mint and basil, can be arranged among the rows and the corners for a special smoothie twist. The flowers serve an important function by attracting pollinators to the plants.

So get out that sturdy blender and turn those extra veggies or your new garden into a yummy and fresh summer treat. For a great, delicious smoothie, try this simple formula: 

2 cups leafy greens or vegetables

2 cups liquid base

3 cups ripe fruit

Try freezing your fruit for a chilled, and frosty consistency. Add a 1/4 cup fresh mint for a unique flavor too!

 

 

Green Family Circle Spring Newsletter

Green Family Circle Spring Newsletter

 

GFC Fall 2016 Newsletter

 

Mr. Green Bean’s Spring Adventure
 

Mr. Green Bean’s Spring Adventure

Make Your Own Herb Garden

Ages 3-8
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Materials:

  • Biodegradable pots
  • Soil
  • Seeds (we recommend Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, and Chives)
  • Craft sticks
  • Shovels or something to scoop soil
  • Spray bottle filled with water

Instructions:

    1. Pick a location – an ideal location is close to the kitchen, but also somewhere that gets about six hours of sun a day.
      Scoop the soil and fill the container almost to the top
    2. Inspect and plant the seeds. Seeds are interesting and come in different sizes and shapes, take a few minutes to examine them! Place a few seeds in the soil and gently push some soil on top of the seeds.
    3. Label the container. With the craft sticks, write out which herb you just planted and place in the corresponding pot.
    4. Mist the soil right away and twice a day after that. Young seedlings love to be watered!

Watch them grow. In a few weeks, you should be able to harvest your first tasty herbs.

Tree Identification

Ages 10+
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Street trees play an essential role in the New York City environment. Our city is home to over 590,000 street trees from 52 different species. Four of the most common street trees in NYC are Linden, Ash, Maple, and Hemlock. While you are on your next neighborhood walk, take a few minutes to examine your local trees and try to identify them!

  1. Look at the leaf! Are they simple or compound? Simple: one leaf per stem; Compound: many leaves per stem.
  2. Are they broadleaf or coniferous? Broadleaf trees have flat leaves; coniferous trees have needles and cones, like a pine tree!
  3. Find the seeds. You know those ‘helicopter seeds’ (Samaras)? They are often found on Maples. Just as acorns are indicative of Oaks!
  4. Feel the bark. When you get more experience, look at the bark to see if it is scaly, furrowed, papery, or smooth.

Fun Tip: Find out a tree’s age by measuring its trunk. For every inch around, that is roughly how old it is!


Seasonal Recipe

Vegetable Frittata

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Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 4 ounces feta

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF with rack in center position. In a large bowl, beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper.
  2. Warm oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add red pepper and onion and sauté until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in spinach and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes. Distribute vegetables evenly in skillet and pour in egg mixture. Crumble feta on top. Cook without stirring until eggs are just beginning to set around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Place skillet in oven. Bake frittata until almost set in center, about 15 minutes. Turn broiler on high; broil frittata until top is golden brown, about 2 minutes, watching carefully to prevent over-browning. Remove from oven. Let frittata rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

GreenTeam Tips for Starting Seeds

GreenTeam Tips for Starting Seeds

The Hort’s GreenTeam actively promotes the economic, social, environmental, and quality of life benefits of neighborhood plazas and green spaces. Through strategic partnerships, The GreenTeam provides vocational training in horticulture, transitional work, job search skills, and job placement, and aftercare services.

As February rolls around, the sun shines more, and a few 60-degree days pop in here and there, the GreenTeam ramps up its spring planning. In the 2017 season, our workforce will plant, clean, and maintain fifteen public plazas – three more than last year! Serving more public-plazas means planting more plants – and it just so happens that we love plants!

Luckily, to facilitate this large uptick in plantings, The Hort has great friends and partners at Van Houten Farms. Earlier this month, the GreenTeam met with the Van Houten Farms horticulturists to plot out a signature plant palette for the year. The goal is to have New Yorkers recognize the Hort’s public plazas just by looking at the plants!

The GreenTeam does not let Van Houten Farms do all of the growing – they do some too! When a box from Burpee arrived with a huge assortment of flower and vegetable seeds, it was as if Christmas came early (or late?) for our horticulturists. Many of these seeds will be used in supportive housing buildings, where the GreenTeam will teach residents how to grow vegetables and flowers.

However, with the last frost coming soon (about May 1st), it is just about time for all gardeners to start seeds indoors. Whether you are using small pots or seed starting flats, the GreenTeam would like to offer a few tips for seedlings. Follow their advice and watch your seeds grow!

  1. Make sure you clearly label the seeds you plant with the seed variety and planting date – it is easy to forget what you planted.
  2. Use a spray bottle to keep the soil moist at all times, seeds and young seedlings will not grow if the soil dries out.
  3. Keep your pots or trays next to a sunny window or under a grow light. If seedlings are not getting enough sun, they will start searching for light and become leggy.
  4. Make sure your seeds stay warm to encourage germination – most require temps around 72 degrees to germinate.
  5. Always follow the directions on the seed packets! Did you know that some seeds might not need to be covered with soil?

Does all this ‘green-thumbing’ make you a bit nervous? Worried about your limited space to grow or lack of sunlight? Don’t worry, you do not have to ‘seed start’ everything.  There are plenty of leafy greens and spring vegetables that can be planted directly in the ground after the last frost – think arugula, turnips, radishes, kale, and chard. Local farmer’s markets or nurseries are great resources and often have large selections of annuals that can be put right into the ground! But remember to always choose vigorous looking plants and make sure you are not buying anything you did not pay for, such as yellow leaves or aphids.

With enough hard work, care, and patience, you will have a lush and successful growing season! Who knows, you might even out-grow The GreenTeam.

 

The Importance of Natural Science Education

The Importance of Natural Science Education

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The Hort provides the Apple Seed program to underserved public schools, in the classroom and as part of after-school programs. Apple Seed is an inquiry–based program that emphasizes raising the level of critical thinking among students and sharpening their powers of observation. Apple Seed includes hand-on activities that integrate science learning with reading, mathematics, writing, cultural history, geography, and artistic expression. The Apple Seed curriculum is based on the National Science Education Standards.

At the Hort we love to introduce New York City public school children to the great outdoors — even in a gray cityscape. It’s no secret that access to urban green spaces, an emphasis on nutrition education, and connecting students to nature prepares young people for a more successful future. The curriculum we teach in schools offers further insight into the inspirational power of nature.

5Every semester our in-school (and in-garden!) educators work tirelessly to engage students with each lesson.  We don’t want the learning and experience to stop in the classroom or at the school. Lessons are designed to be taken home and shared with parents and siblings to reinforce the experience and empower others. For instance, when our 4th and 5th graders participate in a hands-on activity that teaches them to identify different types of herbs and build a ‘seasoning pack’ with a recipe to use at home.

In 2016, Hort educators measured the impact of our school lessons through process-based questions designed to show growth. Take a look at some of the highlights:

 

Brooklyn high school, 9 – 12th grade students

Before Apple Seed lessonsIMG_0136

  • None of the high school students were able to recognize sage, rosemary, and thyme, while 20% knew cilantro
  • None of the students had heard about a career in landscape design

After Apple Seed Lessons

  • 100% of students could name sage, rosemary, thyme and cilantro
  • Students participated in a design lesson with a landscape architect

Third grade students at an elementary school near Central Park

Before Apple Seed Lessons

  • Of Eighty students, less than ten previously held a lady bug
  • Only 5% have carved or cut open a pumpkin
  • Less than fifteen students had ever planted in school or at home

After Apple Seed Lessons

  • Every student participated in (and loved!) a lady bug inspection and release
  • Third graders ran around their school garden hunting in a pumpkin patch, received a pumpkin stew recipe card, and a pumpkin to take home
  • Each student planted a plant and helped it grow!

watering on 210 roofThird Grade Students at an elementary school in Harlem

Before Apple Seed Lessons

  • 60% of students previously tasted tea, while none had ever made their own
  • None had ever used rosemary, sage, or thyme to season their food

After Apple Seed Lessons

  • Every student made their own tea AND they all tasted it.
  • 55% of students used a mix of rosemary, sage, and thyme to season their families food at Thanksgiving.

Many of these findings are consistent with the schools we serve – reinforcing the importance of natural science and nutrition education in our city’s schools.

Do you like what we do? Support the Hort by donating and sign up for our email list!

Happy Holidays from The Hort’s Directors

Happy Holidays from The Hort’s Directors

Happy Holidays

We Don’t Just Plant…We Transform

“Something dwells already in our minds; and I believe it is the bond, the bond of fifty thousand generations with the natural world, that can make aspects of nature affect us so powerfully.”

The Moth Snowstorm, Michael McCarthy


How much is nature worth? A smart economist can cost out the value to society of fresh air, clean water, predictable climate, biodiversity, food and even beauty. But what is the value of ‘green’ to the individual? Especially those whose lives are restricted to the grayscape of the inner-city.

  • At PS 50, 0% of the third-grade students had TheHort_EHarlem3rdGrade_20160510_0273previously tasted Sage, Thyme, and Rosemary. After The Hort’s herb lesson that included Make-Your-Own take-home dry “rubs,” 55% of the children reported that they got to use their herbs for the family Thanksgiving meal.
  • A Hort GreenTeam participant, upon securing a full-time job after a season of rehabilitative transitional work on our Horticultural team, likened himself a tulip bulb. “Worn out, discarded, left to rot…but with care and love it turns into something so beautiful, but fragile.”
  • At The Hort’s new therapeutic program for adolescents at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility, one 16-year-old gang member facing serious violent charges could not believe that a carrot grew from his seed – under the ground, in the dark. He told us to “expect me here every day. I see I can learn a lot about life from you.”

The Hort’s mission is to connect people to nature. The benefits are inherent. With your support, we are able to change lives and make our city a better place in which to grow up and live.

Sincerely,

Sara Hobel_signature
Sara Hobel
Executive Director


 

greenhouse-240_2Living in a built environment makes the need for green space vital. The Hort’s work in the field encourages social interaction and cognitive learning while offering a setting of calm for so many individuals.

Through our education, horticulture, and prison programs, thousands of New Yorkers have the opportunity to experience, first-hand, the restorative quality of plants. Improved focus at work, school, and in daily life are all results of working with nature. Please join The Hort as we strive to continue our mission and connect all New Yorkers with the power of plants.

Sincerely,
gpisegna_sig002
George Pisegna
Deputy Director & Chief of Horticulture

 

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2016: The Hort’s Year in Review

2016: The Hort’s Year in Review

Happy Holidays

To our dear friends, supporters, and patrons,

As the holidays and New Year come to pass, the staff and the board of the Horticultural Society of New York would like to say Thank You for a fantastic 2016! We started the year with high hopes and big goals, and because of your support, we exceeded them! Take a look at a few of our highlights from 2016:

  • On track for a $2.8 million contract with the Department of Correction to double the size of our Horticultural Therapy program on Riker’s Island.
  • Expanded our beautification program to include 15 public plazas in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Before our lessons at PS50, 0% of 3rd grade students had used rosemary, sage, or thyme to season their food. After a dried herb demonstration and hands-on activity, 55% used those herbs to season their food at Thanksgiving.
  • Over the course of a week, the GreenTeam transformed a Maspeth step-street with 800 annuals and native plants.
  • Opened the Naval Cemetery Landscape, a key project collaboration with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and the TKF Foundation that created a public park featuring a native plant meadowland.

In 2017, The Hort is on track to expand every program, educating more students, rehabilitating more at-risk populations, and transforming more NYC neighborhoods. We hope you are as optimistic as us to ring in a new year of digging, planting, growing, educating, and creating a greener New York City.

If you want to stay up to date on all things Hort, sign up for our E-Newsletter!

Maspeth Step-Street Receives a Make-Over

Maspeth Step-Street Receives a Make-Over

Step-Street-after-web

A Maspeth step-street received the GreenTeam treatment in the form of 100 trash bags hauled, 450 cubic feet of mulch laid, and 800 annuals planted.

IMG_3300The time has flown by for the Hort’s GreenTeam. Winter means they are hard at work planting bulbs, raking leaves into big fluffy piles, cutting back perennials, and removing vegetable crops from various gardens in Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. The winter plant list is well underway, too: chrysanthemums, snap dragons, pansies, and ornamental cabbages and kales are introduced to thirteen public plazas throughout the city. All this work means GreenTeam interns can reflect on the full cycle of garden and plaza maintenance.

 

One project that excited the GreenTeam was the rejuvenation of the 53rd Avenue step-street in Maspeth, Queens. Sponsored and supported by Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, the first woman to represent the 30th Council District, The Hort beautified the grounds adjacent to the neglected staircase in preparation for its official re-naming ceremony.

Before the clean-up
Before the clean-up

The staircase was quite derelict and required a full day to clean and prepare. Rubble, trash, weeds, fallen leaves, and dead branches were so plentiful that the ten-man work crew filled over 100 trashbags! Once the area was clear of foreign and decaying objects, the degraded hillside and rocky soil was turned over with fresh compost – essential preparation for the hundreds of plants that were coming the next day.

IMG_3289Bright and early on election day, Van Houten Farms delivered over 800 annuals – a huge shock for the gardening crew! The Hort’s work van was also full with nine types of native shrubs, the beautiful and versatile Orange Bush Honeysuckles (Diervilla Kodiak) and Red Twig Dog Woods (cornus stolonifera) among them. The team worked right up until dark to plant as many mums, ornamental kales, and snapdragons as they could.

The next morning, the GreenTeam had to make quick work of the mums because there were over 200 bags of mulch on its way. Luckily, student volunteers from Maspeth high school arrived unannounced to help with the project. Their spirit and youthful energy (vital for carrying many bags of mulch) helped finish the project strong.

The Hort is honored to play a role in beautifying our city, especially in under-resourced neighborhoods. As one passerby noted, “Our little staircase looks like Manhattan now!” We are also so happy to work with dedicated council members like Elizabeth Crowley. Thanks to her, her team, and Maspeth High School, “Easter Rising Way” has been transformed into an important remembrance of Irish and American history.

PS 57: The Hidden Garden

PS 57: The Hidden Garden

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This fall, students at PS 57 in East Harlem have taken full advantage of the beautiful weather and fresh produce growing in their school garden.

Who wouIMG_2726ld have imagined that a small courtyard in the New York City would produce a vibrant pumpkin vine with over 50 cheerful blossoms? Not the students at PS 57 as they hop, skip, and play in their overflowing garden. Julia, our enthusiastic Hort educator and school gardener extraordinaire often hears exclamations of “Look at the size of that leaf!” or “Whoa, what is that plant?” She considers herself lucky to visit twice a week to tend the crops, lead hands-on lessons, and teach about healthy, nutritious vegetables.

Not only do the students get their hands dirty to dig, plant, and grow produce, they eat it too! On a recent visit, students prepared sautéed pumpkin blossoms stuffed with herbed ricotta, with chives and basil harvested fresh from the garden. Classes of 25 students, were divided into work groups: a). Pumpkin Blossom Partners b). Chive Chopping Committee c). Bureau of Basil Selection and the d). Chamber of Chard.

IMG_3169The Bureau of Basil Selection cautiously harvested herbs for the Chive Chopping Committee, who in turn washed and minced nimbly to mix with fresh ricotta. Meanwhile, the Pumpkin Blossom Partners gently washed the flowers, checked for rogue ants and carefully removed the flower’s stamen. The Chamber of Chard worked simultaneously to find the biggest, most impressive leafs for the healthy side dish.

Once each division reported their task complete, the pumpkin blossoms were stuffed with the herb ricotta filling and lightly sautéed in olive oil. The sautéed swiss chard and garlic provided a healthy, palate pleaser – surprisingly more popular and nearly stealing the show! None of the students had ever eaten a flower before, but by the end of the class, they were in love!

The following week, students set to work harvesting the rest of the herbs to store and dry.  Bunches of rosemary, sage, thyme, and lavender were wrapped in big bundles and hung throughout their classrooms – a unique take-home in a few weeks. Though the garden was put to rest for the winter, the kids have fond memories and tasty herbs to share with their friends and family.

If you want to visit the Garden of Dreams for yourself, it is on East 115th Street, between Park and 3rd Avenues.  Happy Harvesting!IMG_2725

 


Do you want to eat like a 3rd grader? Check out their recipe below:  

Pumpkin Flowers with Herbed Ricotta Recipe

  • One dozen fresh pumpkin blossoms
  • 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 pinch o’ salt
  • 1 pinch o’ pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sautéeing the blossoms

Directions:

  • Mix ricotta cheese with finely chopped garlic, chives, and basil
  • Stuff the filling into the pumpkin flower
  • Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan
  • Lightly sauté the flowers for a few minutes until golden and crispy
  • Enjoy with a friend!
Reflections from Rikers Island GreenHouse

Reflections from Rikers Island GreenHouse

Hort_Rikers_lcmorris_2012-10422222

Many of our students, particularly those who are incarcerated on serious charges, are defined by the public, and sometimes their own families, by their crimes. The GreenHouse staff is dedicated to connecting with the individual, looking past their stories and viewing them as gardeners. Efforts would not be successful without interns that not only offer a helping hand but an open heart and a patient smile. The following are reflections from our interns about the GreenHouse and the transformative power of nature.

Kathryn Berg

“Some of the tangible therHort_Rikers_lcmorris_2012-45apeutic benefits of horticulture therapy are well-known, such as fresh air, exercise, and stress-reduction.  In my experience, it also improves self-esteem, mental focus, and cooperation. The most profound benefit I’ve witnessed at the GreenHouse: a connection with nature, with the cycle of life, produces a regenerative effect.

The interactions between plant and humans are at times almost astounding.  We work with one young man who is charged with murder for strangling a fellow patient while he was committed to a mental institution. Early on, he said that he felt that there was no hope for him because he had “gone too far to the dark side.” The longer he is with us, the more he opens up.  He has a sweet disposition and now he allows himself to smile, laugh, and joke with fellow students. Recently, he made a poster of the seeds he selected to plant and wrote next to one picture: “I want to hug this flower.” I highlight him because I think his transformation captures the magic of horticulture therapy.  Prior to working at the GreenHouse, I had no idea of the spiritual ramifications of gardening.  The longer I’m there, the more I’m convinced of a sacred connection between plants and humans.

Working one-on-one with us, our students are able 6to share concerns, hopes, sorrows, hurt, and joy. We are not in a rush, and nature reminds us to practice deep listening. We share stories and we laugh; sometimes we cry. Part of deep listening in the Greenhouse is to listen not just to what is spoken, but to what is silent. The inmates at Rikers don’t choose to be together, almost never get to be alone, and rarely experience any quiet.  The young men complain that their dorm is extremely loud and that they never get uninterrupted sleep.  With us, they are slow to speak. In gardening, we allow for silence as we work, so that they have room to share. While we do not eliminate the suffering of incarceration, we make it easier to bear.”


Hillary “Scout” Exter

“Spending time at the GreenHouse is an extraordinary experience on so many levels—the contrast between being “outside” and “inside” takes on a new meaning. The garden is a wild place — no manicured lawns here —but it’s also a very peaceful one.  It is a feast for the senses in an otherwise bleak and stark place: the colors, textures, fragrances of the garden, the sounds of birds, the taste of the food we have grown, the sun and breezes and drizzles always delight me.

LTV_2016_lcmorris-5I love seeing each gardener find his or her special places within the garden. Whether it’s the rose wheel, pond, flock of guinea hens, raised bed vegetables, melon patch, vines dripping down on the pergola’s, students always take ownership of a particular area or task.  There are so many lessons to learn and to grow from. Students experience how to work as a team and follow instructions — and the consequences of not (e.g. a seed too deep won’t germinate). Together they foster patience, like waiting for guinea hen eggs to hatch, and the importance of proper care. They recognize their actions or inactions, such as watering plants to foster growth, enabling them to see their work through the season – taking joy in the cycles of life.

I have come to the GreenHouse as a beginner gardener and I have learned so much from working with Hilda, Sarah, Deb, my fellow interns, and the gardener’s who are incarcerated.  With sleeves rolled up, hands in the dirt, beads of sweat visible on our brows, we are all immersed in a common endeavor—the science and miracle of observing and helping things grow.”


Hannah Immerman

“There are numerous spots in the Greenhouse garden where you can look up and all around you and forget, if only for a second, that you are on Rikers Island. It can be restorative and rejuvenating to embrace those small moments and then focus on the task at hand.

5In the Greenhouse garden, inmates and interns are students, gardeners, landscapers, chefs and teachers. We learn how to prune roses and how to delicately water seedlings. We learn that weeding really can be relaxing. We learn when to talk and when to listen and that often, just being in the space together and working toward a common goal is enough. We learn that ladybugs flap their wings 85 times per second. We learn about the types of melon. We learn so much, so we can know ourselves.

Circling the rose wheel, climbing into the guinea hen coop, getting lost in the melon patch or weaving your way through raised beds filled with vegetables, herbs, and fruit, everywhere you turn there is proof that someone’s curiosity and care has made it all possible.”

 

Green Family Circle Fall Newsletter

Green Family Circle Fall Newsletter

GFC Fall 2016 Newsletter

fall16-activity1

Precious Pinecone Owls

Ages 3-10
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Materials:

  • 2 acorn cups
  • 2 leaves
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes
  • Pumpkin seed for the nose
  • Pine cone
  • Small notecard

Instructions:

  1. Cut the notecard into a circle, about the same size as the flat end of your pine cone.
  2. Glue the Pumpkin seed in the middle of the pinecone, this will be the nose.
  3. Glue 1 googly eye inside each acorn cup, and then glue the acorn cups near the top of the pine cone.
  4. Place a leaf on either side of the pine cone and attach with glue, these are the owl’s wings.
  5. Attach the notecard circle with glue to the flat side of the pine cone, make sure it stands upright – this is the base for your owl friend!

fall16-activity2

All Natural Halloween Mask

Ages 10+
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Materials:

  • Small piece of cardboard
  • Nuts, seeds, or other small natural materials
  • Assorted sizes of leaves
  • Other all-natural material (flower petals, grass, feathers)
  • Hot-Glue (with adult supervision)
  • A long stick, about the size of a pencil
  • Tape

Instructions:

  1. Cut cardboard into desired mask shape – don’t forget eye holes!
  2. Glue heavier items onto cardboard first (seeds, nuts, etc.) Arrange in a creative and possibly, spooky design!
  3. Attach leaves with in desired pattern
  4. Glue any remaining materials to your mask and let dry
  5. Once dry, attach the stick to the back of the mask with tape
  6. Use your mask to impress your friends! (or scare them!)


corn-zucchini-salad

Corn and Zucchini Salad with Chives

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Ingredients:

  • 2 small Zucchini, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 ears sweet corn, kernels shaved off
  • 1 cup minced chives
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint, plus sprigs to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Place the diced zucchini in a colander or small bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil and the butter.
  2. When the butter foams up, add the corn kernels and cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender — about 5 minutes. Drain any excess water off the zucchini and add to the skillet, along with the chives and mint. Sauté just until the zucchini is barely tender — about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately while hot, or at room temperature.

Credit: Faith Durand, The Kitchn

Summer Success Stories: Parkside Plaza

Summer Success Stories: Parkside Plaza

BeforeAfter
The Hort is dedicated to sustaining a robust network of neighborhood plaza managers to maintain clean, safe and vibrant public spaces across New York City while promoting the economic, social, environmental, and quality of life benefits of neighborhood plazas to New York’s civic, business, and philanthropic communities; the media; and elected officials.

Parkside Plaza, a cozy Prospect-Lefferts Garden corner on Ocean and Parkside Avenues, has drastically transformed over the past two years. The renewal is rooted in The Hort’s vision for each space: a beautiful, functional, and publicly managed green space where the community can relax and engage with one another. More broadly: a great spot to sit.

2picThis summer, the growth and transformation of the previously derelict, forgotten patch of concrete continued. The all-volunteer plaza management group, The Parkside Committee, hosted three major events or “plaza activations”: a celebration of the Plaza’s 1-year anniversary, an African Drumming & Dance festival, and a Community Resource Fair, which highlighted housing information, pre-K offerings, and voter registration. Thousands of people participated in each event, while hundreds more flocked to the newly founded Sunday farmer’s market.

At the Hort, we know that big events are only part of the equation for a successful plaza. We know that it is day-in, day-out maintenance that brings lasting change to a neighborhood and over time creates a true asset. A clean, well-maintained plaza sends an unmistakable message that investment is happening. For Parkside, that investment is the time, money, and sweat equity from the community stewards.
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To make the volunteer investment sustainable and worthwhile, the GreenTeam and the Association of Community Employment (ACE) arrive every morning to unlock and arrange tables and chairs, raise the umbrellas, and remove litter — reversing those tasks each evening. The work crews also plant season-specific flowers, bringing new, lush color to the Q-Train “greyscape”. The positive response has led the scope of the project to expand as the Parkside Committee guided the renewal of half a dozen tree pits on the nearby streets.

Parkside Plaza has been one of the many successes from New York’s Plaza Program. Our hope is that everyone is able to visit a plaza, engage in with the community, pull up a chair, and relax. Or as Ike Rosen, a Prospect-Lefferts Garden resident, stated on the Parkside Plaza Facebook page, “I’ve never been to the farmers market, but as a mobility-challenged resident of the neighborhood, I appreciate the seating area available when out shopping.”

Learn more about the Hort’s GreenTeam and Neighborhood Plaza Partnership at www.thehort.org

Also, learn more about our great partners, Parkside Plaza Committee and the Association of Community Employment (ACE).

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End of Summer Recipes: From the Garden to the Table

End of Summer Recipes: From the Garden to the Table

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As summer draws to a close, it’s time to think about how best to use the remains of your summer gardening efforts. What better way to celebrate a successful summer season than with a garden party full of delectable summer fruit and vegetable delights? It’s a great way to share locally grown produce and your gardening skills. Treat your guests to this perfect garden party menu of easy and delicious recipes below:

Pan-Cooked Summer Squash With Tomatoes and Basil

Credit: Martha Rose Shulman, NYTimes
Credit: Martha Rose Shulman, NYTimes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds medium or small zucchini or other summer squash, thinly sliced or diced (depending on what shape squash you use)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, grated on the large holes of a box grater, or peeled, seeded and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped or slivered fresh basil (to taste)

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy skillet. Add the zucchini. Cook, stirring or shaking the pan, until the zucchini is lightly seared and beginning to soften, three to five minutes. Remove from the pan, and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, then the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until fragrant — less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have begun to cook down, about five minutes. Return the zucchini to the pan, add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is tender and translucent and the tomatoes have cooked down to a fragrant sauce. Stir in the basil, and taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from the heat and serve hot, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
Serves four to six.

Corn and Zucchini Salad with Chives

Credit: Faith Durand, The Kitchn
Credit: Faith Durand, The Kitchn

2 small zucchini, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ears sweet corn, kernels shaved off
1 cup minced chives
1/2 cup chopped mint, plus sprigs to garnish

Directions:

Place the diced zucchini in a colander or small bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil and the butter. When the butter foams up, add the corn kernels and cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender — about 5 minutes.

Drain any excess water off the zucchini and add to the skillet, along with the chives and mint. Sauté just until the zucchini is barely tender — about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately while hot, or at room temperature.

Fresh Vegetable BBQ Pizza

Credit: Iowa Girl Eats
Credit: Iowa Girl Eats

1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
½ cup chopped red onions
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Pizza Dough or Pizza Crust

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread BBQ sauce evenly on top of Pizza dough. Layer with Black beans, corn, tomatoes and red onions. Sprinkle with cheese until covered. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Let cool five minutes then slice. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top before serving.


Zucchini Bread Cookie Whoopie Pie

Credit: Iowa Girl Eats,Iowa Girl Eats
Credit: Iowa Girl Eats,Iowa Girl Eats

For Bread Cookies:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (4oz) unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely grated zucchini (squeezed of excess moisture then measured)
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup flour
1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the icing:
2 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
4oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Combine butter, applesauce, and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes (mixture won’t be light and fluffy – it’s ok.) Add egg then beat to combine. Add vanilla then beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing well between each batch. Add zucchini and mix to combine then add oatmeal and mix to combine. Cover bowl then place in the refrigerator for one hour, or until dough holds it’s shape when scooped.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop 1 Tablespoon dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets then bake for 10 minutes, or until set on top. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the icing: While the cookies are cooling, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scoop into a piping or ziplock bag, snip off the corner, then pipe onto half the cooled cookies and top with the other half. Store whoopie pies in an airtight container in the fridge.