In Conversation with Lisa Miller, Ph.D.

In Conversation with Lisa Miller, Ph.D.

GFC Lunch & Lecture: September 27, 2016

Green Family Circle Luncheon and Lecture speaker and author of The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving discusses spirituality and her findings with The Horticultural Society of New York.

Lisa Miller

As a clinical psychologist your research into the spiritual development of children, adolescents, and families, has generated strong evidence that spirituality is part of our inherent biological nature and is foundational to thriving. In your new book, you not only synthesize the results of these studies but offer parents a pathway toward understanding the essential importance of promoting a spiritual life in their children. Why is this research so groundbreaking and why is it so important?

Models of child development have been essentially silent on the matter of spirituality in child and adolescent development, largely due to a lack of scientific research. With a relatively recent wave of rigorous science in top peer review journals, we now have a breakthrough wave of science that shows us: 1) children are born inherently spiritual, 2) this natural spirituality can be supported by parents and caring adults, and 3) if it is supported, it is the greatest source of resilience and thriving known to the medical or social sciences.

Just as the child is born with an innate social sense or cognitive ability, every child is born with a biologically based capacity for natural spirituality. This natural spirituality, if it is supported, is a tremendous resource for health and thriving. The research supports this: adolescents with a strong personal spirituality are 60% less likely to suffer from substance use and abuse and 80% less likely to engage in risky and unprotected sex than adolescents who are not spiritually oriented.

How would you define the science of spirituality?

Science is a way of seeing and testing, and an infinite range of topics can be regarded through its lens. We often look at a great force in terms of its impact, indirectly. For example, gravity– we cannot see gravity, instead we look at the expression or effects of gravity on objects or planets. The science of spirituality does the same. The science of spirituality examines the impact of spirituality on human thriving, health, and development by measuring the effects of spiritual life on the brain, our bodies, our health, and our relationships. The science of spirituality has shown there is a lifelong connection between spirituality and thriving. It has also shown that the essential foundation for spirituality is established in the first two decades of life.

The science of spirituality has shown there is a lifelong connection between spirituality and thriving. It has also shown that the essential foundation for spirituality is established in the first two decades of life.

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Q&A with the Hort’s GreenTeam – Surviving the Summer Heat!

Q&A with the Hort’s GreenTeam – Surviving the Summer Heat!


In a Summer of sweltering heat and thick, humid air, you would be forgiven for wanting to be inside. But not the GreenTeam: they have sweat, hauled, and planted their way through the heatwave. Despite this, they always keep their chin up and smile on their face. How could they not enjoy themselves when the progression of each planted tree and blossomed flower highlights a (so far) successful season?

To learn a bit more about what makes the GreenTeam tick through the summer season, Sam Lewis, GreenTeam Manager, answers a few questions.

Q: What’s the toughest part of the summer?

Sam: As you may know, plants don’t slow down like us in the mid-summer sun, meaning early mornings and late evenings. It’s not uncommon for staff and interns to tend gardens at supportive housing facilities, provide maintenance at public plazas, and clean up community parks every day. Oh, and also the heat, did I mention the heat?

Q: Do you know which task the GreenTeam participants like to do the most?

Sam: If you ask me, it’s probably harvesting, weeding, planting, deadheading, pruning, and mulching. You know, all of it! The rest of the guys would probably say “break-time”. I’m kidding, they all love seeing their work grow through the summer and then are surprised at how much pruning and care each plant takes.


Q: Is there any project the GreenTeam is especially excited about?

Sam: We have a lot of cool projects, but the community farm and flower garden at the CAMBA Gardens Facility (Wingate, Brooklyn) has everyone buzzing. It’s a building with over 200 units of affordable housing and is also home to families and individuals with special needs. Our interns are really attached to this location because the project began from ground zero: testing soil for dangerous metals, amending poor soil, and taking out old dead wood. In the spring, residents mapped out their vision for the garden and helped the team lay the foundation. Now the produce list includes: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplant, okra, basil, tomatillos, corn, beans, herbs, and berries. The designated flower section highlights zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, snapdragons, gomphrena, marigolds, bachelor buttons, and statice. I know that was long-winded, but it’s a truly impressive place.

Q: How does the community respond to such a transformation at CAMBA Gardens?

Sam: Everyone has been really responsive, especially leaders inside CAMBA. The junior board visited the garden for a volunteer workday and were in awe of the progress made. Volunteers made plant ID signs, helped weed beds, and composted a little too. After being in the garden for half of the day, everyone recognized how essential it was to the entire housing complex.


Q: What will happen to the garden in the fall and the winter?

Sam: Have no fear! In October residents will plant cover crops, garlic and tulips to maintain the soil quality. Also, throughout the fall and winter, the team will offer instructional workshops like how to make basil pesto, create flower arrangements, and when to start seeds for the spring. We love working with CAMBA and are looking forward to next summer already.

Q: Any words of advice for fellow summer gardeners?

Sam: Enjoy your harvest! You know as well as I do that it takes a lot of work to maintain plants, but there is nothing better than picking a bunch of your own tomatoes for a delicious summer salsa.

The Hort and Emma Lazarus High School Bring the ‘Poet’s Garden’ to Life

The Hort and Emma Lazarus High School Bring the ‘Poet’s Garden’ to Life


In May, The Horticultural Society of New York joined forces with students at Emma Lazarus High School (ELHS) to install a beautiful garden and inspirational learning area. ELHS is dedicated to assisting English language learners thrive in and out of the class room. With the diverse student population in mind – hailing from Ecuador, Haiti, and China, to name a few – ELHS and The Hort brought the universal language of gardening to every young adult.

The ‘Poet’s Garden’, named by students to honor poet (and school) Emma Lazarus*, is located in the Lower East Side on the corner of Hester and Eldridge street. As we see so often in the city, the scrap of land housed little more than a few trees and a tuft of grass. After a combined total of 150 volunteer hours the site is a shadow of its former self. Following a design they helped create, students conditioned soil, created two ovular beds, planted two more trees, laid a stone walkway, and tended to any stray weeds.

The new plants and trees not only add to the immediate beauty but also lead to long-term garden viability – a strong groundwork to grow forward. The plant list included: Hostas, Bee Balm, Hellebores, Andromeda bushes, and lavender. The trees, a Coral Bark Japanese Maple and a Dwarf Lace Leaf Japanese Maple, will add plenty of shade to this unique and special area.

Over the next month, The Hort will continue to work with the students to maintain the space. Through regular maintenance, garden education, and time spent enjoying and meditating in the outdoors, the hope is to instill a sense of pride and ownership in the garden’s ultimate stewards: the students.

*Emma Lazarus is a famous American poet whose most recognized work, The New Colossus, can be found inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The stanza, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” is often considered one of the most powerful and recognizable pieces of American writing.

Mr. Green Bean’s Supreme Summer Activities

Mr. Green Bean’s Supreme Summer Activities

Garden Rock Caterpillar

Garden Rock Caterpillar
Ages 3-8

Create a crazy caterpillar friend out of natural materials to stand guard over
your garden!




• Outdoor paint in your favorite colors
• 6 small to medium rocks
• 2 small sticks or twigs for antennae
• Hot glue or super glue (use parental guidance!)

1. Go outside and collect your rocks. Size varies depending on how big you want your caterpillar to be.
2. Wipe off any dirt with a damp rag, let them dry, and paint your rocks with your favorite colors.
3. Choose a rock to be the caterpillar’s head – after the first layer of paint has dried, paint on silly face!
4. After all rocks have dried, assemble the caterpillar’s body, and glue the rocks together.
5. When the glue has settled, attached the stick antennae to the caterpillar’s head.
6. Your caterpillar is complete! Now find a spot in your garden to display your new friend!



Strawberry DNA Extraction

Strawberry DNA Extraction
Ages 10+

Create a unique gift for just about anyone (including yourself) by making organic handmade soap. Experiment with scents and textures until your tween has the perfect combination.


• Isopropyl Alcohol
• Water
• Dish Soap
• Salt
• Ziploc Bag
• Strawberry

1. Place a bottle of isopropyl alcohol in the freezer. We’ll come back to it later.
2. Pour 3 oz of water, 2 tsp of dish soap, and ¼ tsp of salt into a small glass container and mix until the salt dissolves. This is the extraction mixture.
3. Place one strawberry into a plastic Ziploc bag and add the extraction mixture.
4. Remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal it closed. Use your hands and fingers to mash, smash, and moosh the strawberry. You don’t want any large pieces remaining.
5. Pour the resulting strawberry pulp through a strainer into a medium sized bowl. Use a spoon to press any larger mashed bits, forcing more of the mixture into the bowl.
6. Add 1 tsp of chilled isopropyl alcohol to the solution. Hold the mixture at eye level and look for a separation of material. It should look like a white layer on top – that’s the DNA of the strawberry!
7. Use tweezers or a utensil to gently remove the DNA from the solution and lay it on a dish to examine.

How it Works:
The long, thick fibers you pulled out of the extraction mixture are real strands of strawberry DNA! As you may know, DNA is present in every cell in plants and animals and determine all of our genetic traits. While humans are diploid, meaning two sets of chromosomes, strawberries are octoploid, meaning they have eight sets of chromosomes. This makes strawberry DNA easy to extract and to see! To extract the DNA each component of the mixture plays a part. Soap dissolves the cell membranes, salt releases the DNA strains by breaking up the protein that holds the nucleic acids together, and the DNA is not soluble in isopropyl alcohol, especially when it’s ice cold.


Seasonal Recipe: Green Bean Salad with Salsa Fresca Dressing

Seasonal Recipe: Green Bean Salad with Salsa Fresca Dressing

Green Bean Salad with Salsa Fresca Dressing


A delicious, colorful salad that is healthy, delicious, and refreshing on a hot summer day – definitely a crowd pleaser.




  • 1 pound green beans
  • 1 bunch frisée or escarole, torninto bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Salsa Fresca Dressing

  • 1 cup Salsa Fresca
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 ½ cups Roma tomatoes,seeded and chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


1. Mix onion, jalapeno pepper, and lime juice in a bowl. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, cilantro, and salt; let stand 15 minutes for flavors to blend.

Salad Instructions

1. Cook green beans until tender (approximately 2 -3 minutes) in a small pot of salted boiling water. Set aside to cool.
2. Combine frisée, onion, almonds, and goat cheese in medium sized bowl. Toss salad to mix ingredients.

Seasonal Recipe: Spring Vegetable Pizza

Seasonal Recipe: Spring Vegetable Pizza



This delectable recipe combines some of the most hearty spring vegetables with a traditional favorite: pizza. Don’t forget to buy fresh, local, and organic vegetables!




• 1 jar (12 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained well, reserving marinade, hearts quartered if whole
• 1 large bunch asparagus (1 pound), trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, and halved lengthwise if thick
• 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
• 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen and divided in half
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 7 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (3 cups)


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, combine artichoke hearts, asparagus, and tomatoes.
3. On a large piece of parchment paper, brush dough with artichoke-heart marinade and roll out to a make two 14-inch-long oval pizzas.
4. Transfer dough to a baking sheet and top with the vegetables, leaving a 1-inch border. Brush border with marinade and season entire pizza with salt and pepper.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pizzas, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until crust is deep golden and cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Mr. Green Bean’s Spring Outdoor Adventures

Mr. Green Bean’s Spring Outdoor Adventures

Senses Scavenger Hunt

Senses Scavenger Hunt
Ages 3-10

Spring is the perfect time to go outside and see what is growing. Walk in the park, around the block, or to a local garden and try to find everything on the list below. Add a few of your own too!

Senses Scavenger Hunt



Spring Nature Journal

Spring Nature Journal
Ages 10+

A nature journal is a great way for kids to keep a record of their thoughts and experiences in nature. Studies show that children who personally connect with the outdoors are more likely to care about the environment when they grow up.

Keeping a journal can be as simple as a quick sketch, a caption, and a date. These are essential as your child tracks their feelings and adventures.

How to Get Started
Gather journaling supplies: A small, spiral-bound notebook and a No. 2 pencil allow for easy, on-the-go journaling. Colored pencils and crayons add color to any entry.

First Nature Journal Entry
Spend 15 minutes outdoors with your children to understand their interests as they explore. Encourage them to spend a few minutes listening to the sounds of our world.
When you return inside, ask them to write down:
• One word to describe something they heard
• Two words for something they saw
• Three words for something they felt
• Additionally, have your children draw a sketch of something they saw or a whole scene of a special place.

What else goes into a nature journal?
• Natural items like leaves, flowers, or seeds
• A small field guide for a subject
• Captions for sketches, dates, or any questions that need answering


The Hort’s 4th Annual Green Bean Bash

The Hort’s 4th Annual Green Bean Bash


On February 6th the Hort hosted the Fourth Annual Green Bean Bash at Temple Israel. Over 300 children and adults gathered for an afternoon of fun crafts, delectable vegetables, crawly insects, glittery tattoos, and hang out with everyone’s favorite mustachioed friend: Mr. Green Bean. For three hours, families learned the intricacies of our natural world while having bundles of fun.

When the children finished their Green Bean Bash Curiosity quest – completing all bash activities – they earned their Mr. Green Bean mustache and sea-themed curiosity kit – a hands-on adventure in a box.

Alatia Bradley Bach, Paige Betz, Meg Chamberlin, Melanie Chisholm, Jessica Cho, Ashley Christopher, Dana James, Kamie Lightburn, Alison Strong, and Mary Van Pelt co-chaired the event which supported The Hort’s programs to beautify low-income communities across the five boroughs and help make New York greener.

Check out our Flickr album for more awesome Green Bean Bash pictures.

The Hort Welcomes Apple Seed Education Intern

The Hort Welcomes Apple Seed Education Intern


Pamela Ito, Director of Education:
I am pleased to introduce Maya Farestein-Weiss to our Apple Seed teaching team. Maya is a jovial, creative high school senior at the Institute for Collaborative Education. As a young child, Maya’s parents were members of a local Manhattan community garden, where she spent a great deal of time planting flowers, vegetables and herbs, as well as interacting with neighbors in the East Village. Prior to her Hort internship, Maya spent a summer living on and off a yellow school bus, where she visited and camped on Vermont farmlands. She investigated how food is grown, from the farm to plate– and its individual and societal meaning. We are so thrilled to have Maya “on board” and look forward living the motto of the Magic School Bus: Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!

Green Family Circle Winter Recipe

Green Family Circle Winter Recipe

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup


Black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are known for being full of vitamins and immune boosting compounds that have been shown to help fight colds and the flu. You may also use juices from frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, either from the grocery store or frozen from summer berry picking. This syrup is great on waffles and pancakes, mixed into sparkling water, or taken in sips to maintain your health throughout the winter.




2/3 cup black elderberries
3½ cups of water
2 tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon cloves or clove powder
1 cup raw honey (local is best!)


1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
2. Bring to a boil and then immediately cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour the mix through a strainer or some cheesecloth into a glass jar or bowl.
3. Discard the elderberries (or compost them!). Add honey and stir well.
4. Pour syrup into a jar or bottle and store in the fridge. The recommended dose for a child is ½ tsp-1 tsp. and ½ tbsp. to 1 tbsp. for adults. If you get sick, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear; otherwise take a dose about 4-5 times a week to boost immunity.

Mr. Green Bean’s Winter Activities

Mr. Green Bean’s Winter Activities

DIY Desk Pals

DIY Desk Pals
Ages 3-8

Go nuts – and spices and beans! Have fun making these simple treasures with your children.

• 1 cup water
• 6 bags Chai tea
• 1 cup salt
• 2 cups flour
• Assorted spices and seeds: Cinnamon sticks, cloves, lentils, pumpkin seeds, peppercorns, cardamom pods etc.

1. Heat water and steep three chai tea bags for at least five minutes.
2. Mix the salt and flour in another container and add in the dry contents of three other bags of Chai tea.
3. Next, have an adult pour steeped tea into the dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Add more water or flour if the dough is too dry or sticky.
5. On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut whatever shapes you wish. To make ornaments, remember to make a hole for the string.
6. Decorate the ornaments by pressing the spices and seeds into the dough.
7. Bake in a 200˚ oven for two hours and enjoy the aroma!



Pine Cone Chandelier

Pine Cone Chandelier
Ages 10+

Transform pine cones into a creative hanging “chandelier” that brings nature indoors!

• Pine cones
• Large & medium-size embroidery hoops
• An assortment of feathers
• Glitter
• Hot glue
• White thread
• White spray paint or white acrylic paint
• Scissors.

1. Gently coat pine cones with white paint, and sprinkle with glitter while paint is wet.
2. If desired, paint the hoops white.
3. Tie the embroidery hoops together by wrapping both hoops with the thread with the desired space in between. Wrap in at least four different spots to secure tightly.
4. Wrap thread around the tip of each feather and tie a knot-be sure to leave a 12” tail to hang them with.
5. Cut different lengths of thread and tie a knot at one end. Place some hot glue on the bottom of each pine cone and place the thread inside it.
6. Tie the feathers and cones to the inner and outer hoops.
7. Hang anywhere to enjoy the beauty of the natural world!