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Click here for Memorial Day Weekend 2022 updates, schedules & visitor information.

Click here for Memorial Day Weekend 2022 updates, schedules & visitor information.

Spot­light on GrowNY­C’s Teach­ing Garden

Since 2015, GrowNYC’sTeaching Gar­den has been a fix­ture in Gov­er­nors Island’s Urban Farm, wel­com­ing vis­i­tors on week­ends dur­ing the pub­lic sea­son and field trips of stu­dents through­out the year. This sum­mer, with vis­i­tors allowed only for pas­sive vis­its to Urban Farm sites, the Teach­ing Gar­den has shift­ed its focus from pub­lic pro­gram­ming to full-scale food production. 

Lay­ing out mulch at the Teach­ing Gar­den. Pho­to by Vital­ly Pitlzer

Last month, the New York Times cov­ered GrowNYC’s new direc­tion for the Teach­ing Gar­den this year, detail­ing how the staff had con­vert­ed the one-acre garden’s demon­stra­tion farm rows to pro­duce an abun­dance of berries, beets, col­lard greens, egg­plants, herbs, squash, pota­toes, and more. Pre­vi­ous­ly, the Teach­ing Garden’s pri­ma­ry pur­pose as edu­ca­tion cen­ter meant that most of its pro­duce went home with vis­it­ing stu­dents, while some was sold at a farm stand or allowed to with­er to demon­strate the plants’ life cycle. With the focus now shift­ed to pro­duc­tion, GrowNYC Pro­gram Man­ag­er Shawn Con­nell, who over­sees the Teach­ing Gar­den, esti­mates it could yield up to 20,000 pounds of pro­duce or more this year. 

Check­ing a row of egg­plants. Pho­to by Vital­ly Pitlzer

All this pro­duce is put to good use by groups from around the city that dis­trib­ute it to New York­ers whose food secu­ri­ty has been threat­ened by the effects of COVID-19. Among their part­ner orga­ni­za­tions is the Black Fem­i­nist Project, which takes pro­duce deliv­er­ies from the Teach­ing Gar­den every oth­er week to cre­ate free or low-cost coro­n­avirus food relief box­es that are dis­trib­uted to fam­i­lies across the south­east­ern Bronx. 

A bowl of Teach­ing Gar­den-grown egg­plants ready for dis­tri­b­u­tion. Pho­to by Vital­ly Pitlzer 

The Teach­ing Gar­den grows more than just veg­eta­bles; GrowNYC has also part­nered this year with Brook­lyn-based non­prof­it BloomA­gain­Bklyn to make use of the farm’s abun­dant flow­ers, as cov­ered by the NY Dai­ly News. BloomA­gain­Bklyn turns the flow­ers into gor­geous arrange­ments that they dis­trib­ute to nurs­ing homes and front­line work­ers, spread­ing a lit­tle bit of the Teach­ing Garden’s nat­ur­al abun­dance to even more who will appre­ci­ate it. 

The 2020 Teach­ing Gar­den team. Pho­to by Amr Alfiky

Even with­out their usu­al crowds of vis­i­tors and school groups, GrowNYC is find­ing ways for the Teach­ing Gar­den to pro­vide a valu­able ser­vice to New York­ers. If you’d like to see the Gar­den for your­self, swing by for a pas­sive vis­it 12 – 4pm every week­end in the Urban Farm. 

Head­er pho­to by Vital­ly Pitlzer