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Author: George Pisegna

Reflections from Rikers Island GreenHouse

Reflections from Rikers Island GreenHouse

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

The Greenhouse’s Top Twelve Life Lessons

The Greenhouse’s Top Twelve Life Lessons

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“When I’m in the garden, it doesn’t even feel like I’m in jail. It’s beautiful here”.
– 18 year old GreenHouse student.

The GreenHouse program on Rikers Island is a unique, longstanding collaboration between the Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort), the New York City Department of Correction (DOC), and the New York City Department of Education (DOE). GreenHouse combines year-round horticulture education, vocational training, and hands-on experiences to encourage cognitive behavioral change and provide participants the tools they need to positively redirect their lives.

greenhouse-240_2GreenHouse serves men and women aged 19 and older sentenced a year or less, and male detainees aged 16 to 21. Trained Horticulture Therapists develop a comprehensive, horticulture therapy curriculum, which offers inmates opportunities to design, install, and maintain gardens in several facilities and sites on Rikers Island. The curriculum is adjusted to the individual based on their needs, abilities, and comfort level. Participants’ input is highly valued as facilitators look to them to specify planting groups, develop plant lists, provide design ideas, and create work plans — encouraging ownership and responsibility.

The Rikers Island gardens are lush and offer a glimpse into the passion, commitment, and love the students have for their green space. Annual and perennial flowers, a wide range of herbs, an assortment of vegetables, fruit and berry plants, ponds and seating areas, composting facilities, and rainwater sections can all be found in the gardens; you would never guess it, but working in the garden is less growing plants and more growing people. People-Plant relationships teach many important life lessons and Hilda Krus, the GreenHouse director, shares her top twelve life lessons the GreenHouse teaches:

1. Everything has it’s Time

Year-round gardening is a regenerative cycle of planting, growing, ripening and preparing anew. The same can be said about each participant – they  prepare for the next steps in life.

2. Instant Gratification and Late Gratification

At any point, you can step into the garden, work to improve it, plant more flowers, or just do the basics and you will see instant success. But, gardening also requires patience for plants to ripen, or for blooms to appear. Flowers, fruit, vegetables, and blooms make the wait worthwhile.

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3. Responsibility

By taking care of a specific section or plant, students are encouraged to take ownership and responsibility without being burdened. Students practice nurturing something that is less demanding than an animal or a person. This does not put pressure on individuals but creates an environment where a living thing responds to care and love.

4. Being a Community Caretaker

Tending the garden teaches students that they directly impact the space they’re working and living in. Understanding this concept allows them to recognize, as a group, everyone impacts each other — positive or negative.

“What really takes place is camaraderie, a feeling that this is how it is supposed to be. That if fifteen men had a patch of land and some knowledge, they could make it thrive together.” – 20 year old GreenHouse student

5. Second Chances do Exist

A garden is (mostly) forgiving. If something is wrong, participants see the plants responding and can correct the error. Even with big mistakes, it usually isn’t life-or-death, teaching the value of life without being overwhelmed

6. Gardening as a Skill

When students are attentive, they learn to have success with their plants, meaning they can take pride in a new skill. Throughout the process, they receive compliments on their work, develop self-confidence, and encourage others to seek positive feedback rather than negative attention.

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7. Cognitive Stimulation

The garden works all senses: sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing, allowing participants to let down their defenses and simply rest and enjoy

8. Learning to Treat Themselves with Care

Participants learn to take care of themselves by eating healthier, enjoying simple herbal teas and cosmetics, experiencing working in an open space, and paying more attention to their personal needs.

 

9. Accessing a World Bigger than Us

So long as it’s given proper care, nature doesn’t care about the location or who cares for it. Inmates see this as an opportunity to connect to and thrive in a bigger world compared to their confined lives.

“No single person takes credit, we all take credit. No single person benefits, we all benefit. All of the creativity and talent we bring to the garden is allowed to blossom.” – 36 year old GreenHouse student

10. Connecting with Family and One’s Roots

Many participants have distant memories of parents, or more often, grandparents tending gardens and growing food. Interactions with the natural world reconnect them with family, reminding them of good times, and providing an increased appreciation of their heritage.

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11. Release Stress and Tension

A non-threatening environment does the world of good for each inmate. Along with the cognitive stimulation, they are physically relaxed and mentally engaged. It’s well known that fresh air and open spaces help everyone’s minds grow.

12. Positive Memories

When students are released or move on, they need to reconsider previous choices and come to terms with their lives. The memory of the GreenHouse brings participants a feeling of comfort and peace which can aid their decisions and change the course of their lives.

Upon release, former GreenHouse students are eligible to join the Hort’s GreenTeam, a transitional workforce development team. GreenTeam instructors collaborate with service providers such as substance abuse programs, mental health providers, and job-readiness organizations to support interns as they step back into productive lives. Interns without a high school diploma or GED are encouraged to pursue their diplomas while working with the Hort.

“Though many of us will move on quickly from the garden, we will never forget the experience. For while we were touching nature, nature was touching us.” – 23 year old GreenHouse student

GreenHouse serves as an internship opportunity for future horticultural therapists and individuals from other fields of study. GreenHouse has trained numerous horticultural therapy students from NYU, Columbia, Farm School New York, John Jay College, Union Theological Seminary, The New School, Temple University, and Penn State. The Hort collaborates with the New York Re-Entry Network, Sustainability in Prisons Network, American Horticultural Therapy Association, NY State Association of Incarcerated Education Programs, and have presented on the GreenHouse in Austria and Indonesia.

To learn more about the Hort’s GreenHouse Program visit www.thehort.org

Announcing the 19th Annual International Botanical Art Exhibition

Announcing the 19th Annual International Botanical Art Exhibition

19th Annual International Botanical Art Exhibition

American Society of Botanical Artists and The Horticultural Society of New York at New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Ave., New York, NY
November 3 – December 23, 201619th Annual Images IN 2

Opening Reception & Awards Ceremony
Thursday, November 3, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm

VIP Reception & Press Preview
Thursday, November 3 from 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Please RSVP by October 28 to Scourtade@thehort.org

The premier showcase of contemporary botanical art opens November 3, featuring some of the genre’s most established artists worldwide alongside emerging talents. Hosted by the New York Design Center in its 10th Floor gallery space, the exhibition features forty-eight artworks by artists from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, and the UK. Artworks were selected from a highly competitive field of 258 submissions by jurors Susan Fraser, Director, Mertz Library, The New York Botanical Garden; David Horak, Curator of the Aquatic House, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Catherine Watters, Botanical Artist. Jared Goss, formerly an Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a Board Member of The Hort, has agreed to serve as guest Curator for the exhibition.

This year’s exhibition has a broad range of botanical depictions, from flowers and fruit to roots, trees, and heirloom vegetables. Autumn is harvest time, and several artworks are timed for the season. Linda Medved-Lufkin (US) has depicted a tangle of filaments and husk in her dramatic watercolor Purple Popcorn, featured on this year’s exhibition card. Viewed from above, Speckled Hound Pie Pumpkin in Decline is a study in texture and color by Kathy Schermer-Gramm (US). And the upright spiky branches of Japanese Quince pit the aggressive thorns of its branches against its heavy orbs of fruit in Lizzie Sanders’ (UK) watercolor.

19th Annual Images IN smNoriko Kaneko’s (Japan) watercolor Chinese Cork Oak is evocative of the windswept rustle of dried leaves, with its muted palette of siennas and gray-greens. Coneflower, Winter is a silvery rendition in graphite of seed heads and dried foliage that remain long after the season has passed, by Jane Hancock (US). Rosalind Allchin’s (Canada) watercolor Blue Flag Iris Seedpods shows the wispy, desiccated pods cradling its mother lode of fertile bronze seeds. To examine the seed head and follicles of Coast Banksia is to take an exotic tour through a strange landscape, along with Australian artist Deb Chirnside.

Some very dramatic flowers are represented here as well. Jean Emmons’ (US) watercolor on vellum Hibiscus ‘Hugs and Kisses’ is a rendering of action, its flower’s center seemingly a vortex around which its rainbow-colored petals whirl. Camellia ‘White Phoenix’ is a contrast between dark waxy leaves and pom pom-like white flowers in Akiko Enokido’s (Japan) lush watercolor on vellum. Cockscomb II, Carrie DiCostanzo’s (US) gouache painting, depicts playfully undulating stems, its many brilliant floral folds repeating the rhythm. For the traditionalists in the audience, Esmée Winkel’s (Netherlands) Blackberry Lily is skillfully rendered, showing beautifully modeled flowers and seeds, each leaf vein and wrinkle lovingly painted in watercolor.12576136-cockscomb-ii-by-carrie-di-costanzo

Fruits and vegetables find an enthusiastic audience in the botanical artist. An oil on paper by Ingrid Finnan (US), Breakfast Radishes, uses a bottom-up vantage point to depict a hefty clump of rosy orbs and imperfect leaves. Intricately frilled edges of Kale are satisfyingly shown in a breezy composition by Lara Call Gastinger (US), and Liz Shippam’s (UK) Blueberries ‘Coville’ are a hyper-real, asymmetrically composed watercolor of a ripening berry branch. Artist Asuka Hishiki’s (Japan) Dancing Duo humorously examines the scars a couple of heirloom tomatoes incur through the season, while still able to produce mouth-watering fruit. The two tomatoes barely touch, while anchored to their branch whose leaves have also seen better days.

This exhibition continues to surprise and amaze, the genre’s vitality demonstrated by the breadth of interpretations of the plants we find around us. A series of events is being planned for this year’s exhibition, see ASBA’s website at http://asba-art.org/exhibitions/19th-annual-international for updates. For further information or to arrange a guided group visit, contact exhibitions@asba-art.org. The American Society of Botanical Artists has a membership of over 1,500 from the United States and 27 other countries. Its mission is to provide a thriving, interactive community dedicated to perpetuating the tradition and contemporary practice of botanical art.

The Horticultural Society of New York’s Gallery mission is to sustain the connection between people and plants. Its social service and public programs educate and inspire, growing a broad community that values horticulture for the many benefits it brings to our environment, our neighborhoods, and our lives.

RSVP: https://19thannualexhibition.eventbrite.com

For further information, please contact:

ASBA at 866-691-9080 / exhibitions@asba-art.org / www.asba-art.org

or

The Hort at 212-757-0915 / Scourtade@thehort.org / www.thehort.org

1st Dibs Gallery at New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Ave, New York is open Monday – Friday from 9:30 – 5:30.

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.

Read More Read More

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

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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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

ELHS

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

 

 

 

Materials:
• 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!)

Instructions:
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+
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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.

 

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

Instructions:
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.

 

 

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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

Spring

   

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!

 

 

Ingredients

• 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)

Instructions

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.