Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Bronx Foodies, Chefs, and Familia: Recipes Needed!

Posted in Programs and Events on March 15 2019, by Ursula Chanse

Ursula Chanse is the Director of Bronx Green-Up and Community Horticulture at The New York Botanical Garden.

Photo of the New Roots Harvest Festival
Bronx Green-Up Community Horticulturist/Urban Agriculturist Kadeesha Williams highlights NYBG’s partnership in the production of The Bronx Hot Sauce at the annual Harvest Festival at New Roots Community Farm.

NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up is excited to be part of a new collaboration called The Bronx Canasta, an innovative food production and empowerment program in the Bronx. The Bronx Canasta aims to build self-reliance of Bronx communities to grow their own food and create, market, and distribute value-added products. To support these efforts, The Bronx Canasta secured four years of funding through a USDA Community Food Projects Competitive Grant and is now seeking input on the first value-added product—a Bronx salad dressing and marinade recipe!

Over the past four years, Bronx community gardens and urban farms have demonstrated the viability of commercial production by growing more than two tons of serrano peppers to make The Bronx Hot Sauce™, generating more than $18,000 that has been reinvested into the participating Bronx community gardens. Bronx Green-Up’s role in this pepper partnership has been to provide technical growing assistance to gardeners and coordinate the collection of the locally grown peppers.

Now, the Bronx Canasta’s recipe competition seeks to collect culturally important and tasty recipes from Bronx residents. The recipe competition opened Friday, March 1, and will close on Monday, April 15 at 5 p.m. Visit to submit your recipe. 

Carrie Rebora Barratt, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and William C. Steere Sr. President of The New York Botanical Garden, expressed NYBG’s enthusiasm for the project, stating, “The New York Botanical Garden is thrilled to partner with the Bronx Canasta team on this inspired project, which will create many opportunities for community engagement with gardens and food. First up, we will create a delicious dish out of the world’s best ingredients: Bronx-grown produce, Bronx urban farming expertise, and Bronx culture and spirit.” 

Local officials have also expressed their support for this new program, with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stating, “Grassroots projects like this create roadmaps to be emulated and copied by community gardens in other urban areas throughout the country. I congratulate Bronx Canasta for their efforts to date and look forward to trying the winning recipe later this year.” 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. emphasized the importance of community gardens in this initiative. “The community gardens are vital assets to Bronxites throughout the borough,” he said. “The gardens combining their efforts to create a product that promotes a healthy lifestyle from plants grown right here is exciting. I encourage all New Yorkers with an epicurean flair to take part in this recipe contest and bring the flavor of the Bronx to their own special cuisine.” 

The Bronx Canasta grew out of Bronx Green-Up’s long-standing food, farming, and community gardening partnerships with the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, La Familia Verde, International Rescue Committee, Friends of Brook Park, Morris Campus Educational Farm, and Small Axe Peppers.