Tag Archives: plants

urban composting

9 Jan

photo-1What image comes to mind when you think of composting?

For many of you, composting goes hand in hand with open spaces, farms, and backyards.

So what about those folks living in urban settings, where backyards are virtually non-existant and open spaces are confined to city parks and stretches of concrete? Are they compost-exempt?

A recent article in the New York Times graciously lists some city friendly composting devices that will help connect urban dwellers with newfound composting routines, as they make strides in reducing their food waste.

A quick summary:

  • Blanco, a sleek bin embedded into your kitchen counter
  • NatureMill, “compost made easy”
  • Worm Factory 360, if you are comfortable with worms in your apartment, this ones for you!
  • Envirocycle Mini, if you do have access to outdoor space, this could be a great option
  • Vokashi, a compost pick up and drop off service

Inspired?

Check out our food & garden summer camp where we collaborate with master-composters to teach our campers the fundamentals of composting.

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

early bird food & garden summer camp special

26 Oct

Being followers of our blog, you may have heard about our food & garden summer camp. It’s a blast for our campers, as they get to explore the New York City foodshed and have fun food adventures!

At camp, we learn all about the food cycle, from sprouting seeds, composting and harvesting fresh produce from local rooftop farms, to writing our very own cookbooks. As the weeks progress our campers have explored farmer’s markets, created their own pickles and preserves, and have made bread and ice cream from scratch!

Our campers learn expert kitchen skills from local chefs, take tours of cheese caves, and trips to master chocolate makers. They also have plenty of opportunities to play outside, and go foraging and berry picking at summer’s peak.

We are offering an early bird special on our camp tuition: sign up by October 31st and receive 15% off camp tuition. Camp runs throughout July & August. For more information visit our website for our printable and online registration form.

Here are some additional details that may help answer some of your questions:

  • Camp runs from 9am-4pm
  • Camp date are: Monday, July 8th to Friday, August 16th.
  • We offer pick up and drop off in Brooklyn or Manhattan.
  • Campers are 6-12 years old.
  • We offer early care from 8-9am and after-care from 4-5pm.
  • Our daily fee includes a morning snack and home cooked lunch, 1 camp t-shirt, transportation to and from trips, and all activity materials.
  • Click here for payment details.

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!

first day of our food & garden summer camp!

2 Jul

We are excited to kick off our inaugural day of our food & garden summer camp this morning! We have a fun-filled week planned with trips to the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Bowling Green Farmer’s Market, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and the Union Square Farmer’s Market. We will be picnicking, cooking up a storm, learning about growing food, composting, farming, and seasonal balanced eating. It’s going to be an amazing adventure for all, and we look forward to keeping you updated on all of our summer fun!