Summer Days in Greenpoint

Summer Days in Greenpoint

This summer, the Hort’s education team developed and led the Young Naturalists Program at McGolrick Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The program was free and open to the public throughout July and August. Students, mostly two to twelve years old, joined our educators for nature-themed classes. Additionally, as an ongoing project, students beautified a park corner – opposite PS 110 – where they and their parents cleared leaf litter, pulled weeds, fertilized the soil, added compost, and planted native perennials to attract pollinators to the park.

Each session encouraged the Naturalists to explore their park with curiosity and a keen eye. Tuesday’s Critter Club brought up-close inspections of ladybugs, worms, crickets, and ants. Wednesday’s Art in the Park displayed students’ inner Van Gogh through print making, water colors, collages, and rubbings. On Thursday’s, everyone grabbed binoculars for a special Park Exploration. Botany and Story Time on Friday’s were a huge hit as students explored the inner workings of plants. The Saturday Family Fun gave young naturalists the opportunity to plant and grow something at home!

By the end of the summer, the Naturalists located and identified red-wing blackbirds, monarch butterflies, sycamore tussock moth caterpillars, and countless other critters and animals who call McGolrick Park home. Plus, as a special treat, on the last day of the program students had the special opportunity to meet Crooks the Chicken!

The Young Naturalists Program is part of The Hort’s McGolrick Park restoration which includes improvements to the dog run, reseeding the lawn, and restoring garden beds. This project is in collaboration with the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn and the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance, and funded by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF). The GCEF is a joint program of the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

What’s growing at Rikers Island GreenHouse

What’s growing at Rikers Island GreenHouse

Students at the GreenHouse on Rikers Island research, collaborate, and select which plants to grow in the garden. They choose delicious vegetables, useful herbs, and beautiful flowers. The harvest is different every year, but the lessons stay they same – cultivating healthier futures. Find out what’s growing this year:

Students at the juvenile facility – Sixteen & Seventeen 

Growing garlic is a true test of character.

Last November, when the garden at the juvenile facility was barely over four months old, the 16 and 17-year-old horticulture students planted cloves in deep, black grow bags. The large soil delivery had not arrived to the newly created program, so plant options were limited. The decision to plant this small crop required the utmost trust in seed garlic’s potential to produce in non-traditional circumstances.

As with all things in the garden, patience is critical. As you may know, gardeners plant seed garlic 6 to 8 weeks before the first winter frost. With such a long time between planting and harvesting, about 8 months, many students knew they would not be with the program long enough to taste their work. Despite this, they embraced their task and chose to leave something beautiful behind for those that come after – to step outside themselves as individuals, consider what it means to build community, and to think with longevity.

The students carefully made holes with their fingers in cold soil, buried them snugly, watered them in, and let them be. Throughout the winter, they covered it with a blanket of straw, cared for it, and watched it peek out of the soil. Then a new group came. These new students were thrilled to see strong green shoots in the spring and a harvest of full, hardy paper bulbs.

Cloves have now been used to make cold remedies, given to other facilities’ horticulture students to enjoy, and mixed into delicious herb cream cheese. All because of the trust, patience and investment of students eight months prior.

The main GreenHouse garden – Nineteen and Older 

Horticultural Therapists love using garden metaphors to emphasize lessons. It helps students relate to their lives, see things slightly differently, and engage with their work in the garden more meaningfully. This summer, because of the metaphor-love, students planted the “three sisters” corn, beans and squash for the first time at the GreenHouse.

‘Three Sisters’ Planting

Although all gardeners worked to wheelbarrow nearly 50 barrows of compost to build up and level the ground, two students took on the patch as their responsibility. They measured out fifteen 10X10 areas squares, planted four corn seeds in a cross, beans next to the corn, and three squash seeds in the center. Timing is important for the success of a “three sisters” planting.  The corn takes the longest time to harvest, yet if planted too early it can shade out the growth of beans and squash.

The “three sisters” is a traditional planting by the Native Americans in North America.  Each of the crops planted provides support for each other and a balanced diet for the gardener.  The corn is a natural trellis (supporting) for the beans to climb; the squash shades out weed growth (protecting); and the beans fix nitrogen (giving) in the soil for the benefit of all three sisters. During the season, the planting provides an opportunity to discuss the importance of recognizing and accepting each role we play in our family, work, or community.

Now, everyone looks forward to a bountiful harvest and a delicious meal together – one that connects us to the native peoples of this land.

The Herb Garden – Nineteen and Older 

The Herb Garden is one of the most popular places at GreenHouse. It features a variety of culinary, medicinal, and ornamental plants. Each plant is chosen as a group – building camaraderie and teamwork. Together, students learn the cultural importance of each plant, sow from seed, and put the harvest to good use.

 

Often, students do not have the opportunity to share with others. Even though a gift or a kind gesture goes a long way in a prison that can harbor tension and stress. The Herb Garden provides that opportunity: everything grown in the 28 raised beds is for the students to share.

 

Gifts made by students

Culinary herbs, such as rosemary, tarragon, and thyme become seasoning for meals shared to celebrate student send offs. Hot peppers transform into hot sauce or dried for seasonings. Chamomile, valerian, and wormwood, grown for their calming properties, turn into delicious tea, while lavender and mint combine for a sweet smelling sachet. Each outcome delivered to another – growing community and building trust.

 

Juveniles at the detention center – Sixteen & Seventeen

At a new program site for GreenHouse, adolescent students toiled to sculpt two new courtyards and a breezeway for their future garden. The site will come to include landscaped areas with annual and perennial ornamentals, as well as a full raised bed system for dwarf fruit trees, herbs and edibles. Unfortunately, the late arrival of growing soil meant they’d missed the mark for many annual vegetable crops. Not wanting to miss out, students diligently transplanted into dozens of felt grow-bags the most spirited, pungent and piquant members of the Nightshade family; the humble chili peppers.

In a carceral environment, the chili pepper is an obvious choice, especially among young people who love to challenge their peers.  Beyond that, the blandness and redundancy in daily diet is almost the exactly opposite of the varied sensory and stimulating effects delivered by a mouthful of capsaicin.

For many young students, the geography of the chili and immense pride taken in regional cultivars are a hallmark of cultural and familial identity. From Mexico to Mozambique, Jamaica to Jakarta, regional varieties are prized and praised: something to remember grandma by or to transform the lethargy of a hot, lazy summer afternoon. Hailing from culinary traditions the world over, the students have grown all the standards, from Jalapenos, Habaneros and Serranos to Bells and Sweets. Often, they will venture into the exotic with Thai Hots, Jamaican Scotch Bonnets, and the Indian Ghost Pepper (Bhut jolokia).

 

 

 

Fordham Foodie Fridays & Myrtle-Wyckoff Mini Market

Fordham Foodie Fridays & Myrtle-Wyckoff Mini Market

 Fordham Plaza & Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza will Host Popular Vendors on Fridays

 

As part of a pilot program for concessions in NYC Department of Transportation Public Plazas, the Queens Night Market and the Neighborhood Plaza Program, a program of The Horticultural Society of New York, are collaborating to host food and art/merchandise vendors on Fridays in Fordham Plaza in the Bronx and Myrtle/Wyckoff Plaza on the border of Brooklyn and Queens.

Starting on August 25th, local vendors, many of which are popular participants at the Queens Night Market, will set up all day in these busy commercial and commuter hubs.

The goal of “Foodie Fridays at Fordham” and “Myrtle/Wyckoff Mini Market” is to create activity in new or underutilized plazas while gathering important data on plaza usage, and also to provide a low-cost, low-risk vending opportunity for local entrepreneurs, artists, and makers.

“This is a great opportunity to get more involved in community spaces and provide more exposure and points-of-sale for small local businesses,” said John Wang, founder of the Queens Night Market and vendor coordinator for the pilot program.

At Fordham Plaza, jibaritos from the Jibarito Shack, palatas from Burmese Bites, freshly fried potato skewers from Twisted Potato, Asian buns from C Bao, and jerk chicken from Sunrise Catering will aspire to feed the hungry commuters and students returning from summer break.

Offerings at Myrtle/Wyckoff Plaza will include Portuguese pasteis de nata from Joey Bats Sweets, Puerto Rican pastelillos from Lily’s Sweet and Salty, Italian beef sandwiches from 2nd City Beef, and curated gifts from August Tree.

Vendors interested in participating can email vendor@queensnightmarket.com for details.


Fordham Plaza (E. Fordham Road and E. 189th Street) is a major transit and commercial hub in the Bronx. It sits at the crossroads of 12 local and regional bus lines, the fourth busiest Metro North train station, Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus with almost 7,000 students, Roosevelt Educational Campus with 6,800 elementary and high school students, and Fordham Road, which is traveled by 80,000 pedestrians daily.

Myrtle/Wyckoff sits directly outside the busy Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs Station on the L- and M-lines on the edge of Brooklyn and Queens, is served by at least 6 bus lines, and is flanked by busy retail corridors. This new plaza has up to 700 pedestrians per hour in natural foot traffic.

The Queens International Night Market is a large, family-friendly open-air night market in Queens, featuring up to 100 independent vendors selling merchandise, art, and food and featuring small-scale performances, all celebrating the rich cultural diversity and heritage of NYC and Queens. It averages over 8,000 visitors each Saturday, bringing people from all over NYC to Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The Horticultural Society’s Neighborhood Plaza Program provides sanitation, horticulture and technical assistance services to 14 “high-need” pedestrian plazas. Under contract to NYCDOT, NPP works closely with Plaza Partners and ACE New York to nurture a robust network of neighborhood plazas across the city.

The Hort’s High School Internship Program

The Hort’s High School Internship Program

Naval Cemetery Landscape

Over spring break, the Horticultural Society of New York led a 30 hour training and internship program for a group of 40 Brooklyn high school students focusing on urban gardening, landscape design, and green infrastructure. The experience was designed to engage students with their neighborhood’s green landscape by actively involving them in the maintenance and beautification of the Brooklyn Greenway and Naval Cemetery Landscape. The support of council members Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso was integral to the success of the program.

Making Seed Bombs

I was surprised at “actually wanting to dig in dirt and actually liking it”

The most useful thing “I learn[ed] was the difference between climate change and weather”

Making fresh-squeezed lemonade with mulberries harvested at the site

Now that the Naval Cemetery Landscape (opened Fall 2016) is open to the public, The Hort utilized the transformed space as a project site for students. With the program designed to split its time between traditional classroom instruction and fieldwork, the landscape served as an ideal work area – featuring native plants, butterfly-attracting cultivars, and a peaceful green space. The Hort’s education staff, along with guest speakers from the fields of environmental science, urban planning, and professional landscaping, led workshops on horticulture, soil science, green infrastructure, climate change, and the benefits of native plants. Fieldwork at the Naval Cemetery involved soil tests, tree surveys, architectural review, and insect study. Students also received job readiness training including resume writing, interviewing and job search skills.

“I’m surprised that green infrastructure is everywhere I go! Even on the roof of Barclay’s Center!”

“Before this program I never planted anything ever and I didn’t think plants were important”

Interns learned landscape maintenance techniques and best practices by working to beautify the Brooklyn Greenway. They identified and pulled weeds, improved soil conditions with organic amendments, and planted native, butterfly-friendly plants. The group also restored five street tree beds along the entrance to the Naval Cemetery by removing stumps and weeds, selecting and planting native perennial seedlings to attract pollinators, and adding layers of compost and mulch.

Tree Stump Removal

“Planting is actually pretty fun”

“One thing that surprised me was [how many] types of greenspaces there are”

“I learned how to better the environment around me”

The internship culminated with a certificate ceremony and celebration on Thursday, June 8th. To see more photos, visit our flickr album.

Plant Giveaway at Public Plazas

Plant Giveaway at Public Plazas

Join the Horticultural Society of New York’s Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and NYdigs program as we team up with Con Edison to host a plant giveaway in two Department of Transportation plazas! 

These free events are designed to bring the community together to inspire a love of plants and the environment, educate on how to care for plants, and introduce their plaza stewards. Those who attend will have the opportunity to talk to the horticulturists who green their neighborhood, meet local stakeholders who advocate for public greenspaces, and of course, take a plant home!

Stop by to show your support for clean, safe, and beautiful plazas!

Where and when can you find us

June 22nd | 2:00PM – 5:00PM** | Knickerbocker Plaza | Myrtle Ave. & Knickerbocker Ave. | Bushwick

**While supplies last

June 29th | 2:00PM – 5:00PM** | 78th Street Plaza | 78th Street and 34th Avenue | Jackson Heights

**While supplies last

The Hort, through a strategic partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), provides maintenance, support, and horticultural care at fourteen public plazas.

Family Fun Day at Riverbank State Park

Family Fun Day at Riverbank State Park

On Saturday June 3rd, with the support of Council Member Mark Levine (Manhattan District 7), the Hort’s NYdigs program hosted a family fun day at Riverbank State Park featuring three of our favorite things: planting, exploring, and eating!

Council Member Mark Levine joined in the fun!

Set-up in the park’s busy courtyard, children (and parents too!) quickly found their way to the plant table – attracted by flats of Marigolds, Tomatoes, Basil, Dill, Parsley, and Carnations. They decorated their own pot, scooped rich soil to prepare the transplant, and chose which seedling to care for at home. At the end of the afternoon, over 200 plants found their way to new, happy gardeners.

With plants in hand, many families joined a nature exploration led by a Hort educator. Each explorer spent time searching for birds with binoculars, discussing the mighty Hudson River, and learning a new fact or two. Did you know there have been whale sightings in the Hudson?

Chef Noah Sheetz making his beet hummus

Finally, Chef Noah Sheetz prepared three delicious, all-natural recipes for everyone totaste. A beautiful, purple beet hummus served with crackers and veggies prepared the palate; which gave way to a satisfying vegetable and root salad; and finished with a chocolaty, crunchy quinoa energy bite! The recipes are below if you would like to recreate the delectable experience.

 

Recipes by Chef Noah Sheetz

 

PS 83X Learning Garden Revitalization

PS 83X Learning Garden Revitalization

During an early April week, the Hort’s GreenTeam revitalized the overgrown garden near the entrance of PS 83X in the Bronx. The project, made possible by Council Member James Vacca, transformed the outdoor space from a line of scruffy evergreens to an outdoor classroom and garden, fully furnished with sixteen tree stump seats!

With school empty during the summer,  elements of the design and plant list were specially curated to survive New York’s hottest and driest months with little care. Our horticulturists chose to highlight drought resistant plants like Coral Bells, Shadbush, Ajuga, and Red Twig Dogwood.

The learning garden, located next to the school’s entrance, was also rejuvenated. The six raised garden beds received much needed repairs, a fresh supply of soil and compost, and a surrounding layer of mulch. Each of the six 2nd grade classes at PS83X will have their own bed to sow seeds, learn about plants, and grow vegetables throughout the school year.

Raised beds before & after

The partnership also brings Hort educators to PS 83X to teach over 200 second graders how to identify and plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers – emphasizing the importance of plant science. Everyone is excited for a beautiful new outdoor learning space where they can release ladybugs, learn about garden pests, and offer a fun, hands on look at our natural world. Before the school year is out, every 2nd grade student will transplant seedlings they started and nurtured in their classroom.

Check out the Flickr album below to see great photos from the project!

PS 83X Revitalization

 

 

 

Introducing NYdigs: Plant-based Nutrition & Wellness Education

Introducing NYdigs: Plant-based Nutrition & Wellness Education

In 2017, the Horticultural Society of New York will launch NYdigs, a community outreach program that will connect New Yorkers to plant-based nutrition and wellness education. Offering a variety of free and affordable gardening courses, special events, hands-on workshops, and informative conferences, NYdigs will educate New Yorkers about how gardens, landscapes, and green infrastructure can positively affect their communities, families, and lives.

NYdigs will host programs, conferences, and special events throughout the city. From the art of making soap, to the benefits of cooking with fresh vegetables, to our Urban Agriculture Conference, programs and events will be rooted in the Hort’s mission: cultivating the vital connection between people and plants.

To stay up-to-date on all things NYdigs, sign up for our mailing list or visit our NYdigs webpage: thehort.org/nydigs

NYdigs is proudly sponsored by Burpee Seeds and Plants.

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

IMG_0364
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!