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Author: George Pisegna

The Greenhouse’s Top Twelve Life Lessons

The Greenhouse’s Top Twelve Life Lessons


“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.


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.


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.


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

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

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 for updates. For further information or to arrange a guided group visit, contact 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.


For further information, please contact:

ASBA at 866-691-9080 / /


The Hort at 212-757-0915 / /

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!


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.