! Alert

Governors Island is open for passive recreation. Ferry ticket reservations and face coverings are required. Read our COVID-19 Response.

Governors Island is open for passive recreation. Ferry ticket reservations and face coverings are required. Read our COVID-19 Response.

Spotlight on GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden

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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