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!

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.