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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


  • 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


    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+

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



  • 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


  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.


Green Family Circle Seasonal Fall Recipe

Green Family Circle Seasonal Fall Recipe

Sunflowerseed Brittle
Sunflower Seed Brittle


Nut allergies are a common occurrence among children. Bring the crunch of nut-brittle candy without the reaction by using sunflower seeds instead! Full of vitamin E, sunflower seed brittle will make an excellent after-school snack.






1 1/4 cups sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins or cherries, roughly chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup


1. Preheat the oven to 325˚. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the sunflower seeds, coconut, sesame seeds, dried fruit, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and stir well.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over low heat. Add the syrup and whisk until uniform. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and fold quickly to incorporate it before the mixture becomes too sticky. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth out the top with the back of an oil-greased spatula.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.
5. Crack the brittle into pieces and store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Mr.Green Bean’s Back-To-School Activities

Mr.Green Bean’s Back-To-School Activities

Leaf Wreath Activity

Leaf Wreath
Ages 3-8

Bring some fall colors into the home! Nature, education, and creativity combine to make a lovely autumn decoration. Experiment with shapes and colors and try to identify the type of tree by leaf-shape.




• Fresh leaves
• A heavy book
• Modpodge (optional)
• Glitter glue
• Metallic permanent markers
• Embroidery hoop
• Hot glue gun

1. Collect leaves from outside. Try to get as many shapes and sizes as you can. Identify what you are collecting.
2. Press the leaves inside a heavy book. Let dry (this may take a few days).
3. Remove the dried leaves and coat them with modpodge to prevent future crumbling.
4. Decorate the leaves with glitter glue and markers.
5. Hot glue finished leaves to the embroidery hoop. Hang.



Handmade Soap

Handmade Soap
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.


• 1 or more pounds glycerin soap base
• Double boiler (or create one from two pots)
• Grater
• Water or milk
• 1/4–1/2 teaspoon assorted additives per pound of soap.
• Sugar, salt, and oatmeal all work well as exfoliants. Honey, cinnamon, and extracts (vanilla, peppermint, almond, orange, lavender – the list goes on!) all provide scents
• Soap molds or muffin tin

1. Use a food processor or cheese grater to finely shred soap base
2. Put about half of the shredded base in a pot, using a double boiler works best.
3. Add just enough water or milk to cover the soap. Milk burns easier, but will make a smoother soap.
4. Put the boiler on low heat and as the soap melts add more of the shredded base. Stir well and watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.
5. Add more milk or water as needed.
6. When the soap is melted, add any scents or additives.
7. Pour the liquid soap into molds. Tap molds on a solid surface to remove air bubbles.
8. Cover the mold with a towel overnight.
9. Put the mold in the freezer for a few hours the next day, then remove the soap from the mold and enjoy.