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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!

 

 

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.

 

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,
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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

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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.

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.”

 

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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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

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.