Tag Archives: nyc

Rooftop gardens growing throughout NYC public schools

3 Dec

4127236249_d2d5b01d43All over New York City, farms and gardens are sprouting up on public school roofs, backyard lots and even in their front yards!

Educators and lawmakers alike are beginning to put into practice what many supporters of an edible education have been advocating for years: giving kids an opportunity to plant, grow and harvest during the school day.

In a city where most blocks are lined with a few trees or the occasional flowerbed, schoolyard gardens provide urban students firsthand contact with nature, teaching them how food grows. By getting their hands dirty, they cultivate a more evolved knowledge of what constitutes healthy, natural eating, stressing the importance of fresh produce and the lifecycle of food. The importance of garden-based learning can also be viewed as a potential interactive solution to the ongoing obesity challenge that our country faces.

According to GreenThumb, the number of school-based gardens increased exponentially in the span of two years, from 40 to over 230! GreenThumb has been an excellent source for these initiatives, providing community gardens throughout the city with programming and technical support.

On Avenue B and 5th Street in the East Village, a brand new 2,400-square-foot garden opened at the beginning of the school year. Sitting atop a red-brick building that is home to three separate public schools, the Earth School, Public School 64 and Tompkins Square Middle School, this giant rooftop educational farm was designed by Michael Arad. Arad, also the architect behind the National September 11 Memorial further downtown, was inspired to create the Fifth Street Farm after learning that his own children (former students of the school) were in awe that their crisp and juicy apples once were plucked from trees.

The Horticultural Society of New York has been working with over two dozen schools since 1980, helping them with the design, construction, and education curriculum. The Hort’s mission “is to sustain the vital connection between people and plants” as they help out with the Earth School as well as more recently with four public schools in Queens.

At P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village, the school’s newly opened 15,000-square foot garden is more than a source of fresh produce for lunch, but has really become an outdoor classroom. By teaching kids about art, science, and math through the lens of gardening, their school-day routine becomes more of a hands-on experience.

This summer, for our third year, Butter Beans will be holding our Food & Garden Camp. With a similar mindset as these schools, our goal is to give your children a unique farm-to-table experience. From July to August, we will be covering the gamut of the food cycle from sprouting seeds and harvesting fresh food from rooftop gardens, to writing our very own cookbooks. Visit our website for more information.

For another great examples of greening schools, check out this edible schoolyard in East London, where lots of growing is taking place each day (check out their “lessons in loaf” pictures, they are wonderful!), and get to know Leave It Better, an organization that is accomplishing great feats in greening our local school communities as well.

Photos courtesy of kthread and growtolearn.org

how does your garden grow?

27 Jul

What image pops into your head when you hear the word garden?

After touring the various rooftop farms and gardens in NYC with our summer campers, we have learned that there are many alternatives to the conventional image of a garden. We are constantly in awe of the creative ways people garden and farm these days. With the advent of phones you can talk to, and cars that park themselves, these unconventional methods of growing food seem to be in line with our evolution and advancement.

Here are some creative growing ideas that we have come across lately:

  • Rooftop farms are sprouting all over our great city, and are inspiring lots of momentum in many other cities. Look out for a rooftop farm near you! This recent New York Times article provides a great overview of the projects going on at this very moment.
  • Hanging gardens are convenient for those who don’t have access to a plot of land. The photo we have highlight in our post is from our co-founder’s backyard! She is growing a plethora of vegetables for her whole family to enjoy.
  • Windowsill gardens are another fantastic way to grow vegetables. Use your windowsill to your benefit, and get planting! Check out this resource for windowsill gardening guidance.
  • Soda bottle gardens, a creative way to recycle your bottles! Take a look at this inspiring vertical wall garden concept from landscape designers in Brazil.
  • Woolly pocket gardens, a favorite in schools and backyards. You can plant all sorts of veggies and herbs in these fun pockets.
  • Wine box gardens, fantastic way to recycle wine boxes. Just go into your favorite wine shop and ask the owner if they have any extras leftover. You may be in luck!
  • Old pallet gardens, super unusual, yet functional way to grow vegetables in a small space. Vertical is the new horizontal in small spaces.

The possibilities are indeed endless!

so excited for strawberry picking!

10 May

Before you know it, it will be strawberry picking time. Envision your baskets filled with sweet and tart berries, waiting to be gobbled up en masse, yum! Since our winter here was a mild one, it looks like strawberries will ripen earlier than usual, so be on the look out for these ruby delights at your local farmers market.

Besides the fact that strawberries are incredible delicious, they are incredibly good for you too! Like ruby red beets, they are packed with vitamin C and are great for cleaning our blood, keeping our heart healthy, and our eyes strong.

Check out our class berry jammin’ class that we taught last summer. We can’t wait to make berry jam with our campers this coming July + August, and look forward to watching their excitement when they open up their jars and spread their creation on some freshly made bread!

For those living in the NYC area, check out this site which will help you plan your strawberry picking outing with your family. There is nothing better than a day spent in the fresh air, harvesting nutritious berries and bringing them back home to make lots of fun recipes (pick up strawberries favorite companion, rhubarb on the way too). Happy berry picking to all!