“To grow your own food gives you power and dignity. You know exactly what you’re eating because you grew it. It’s good, it’s nourishing and you did this for yourself, your family and your community.” —Karen Washington
Since 1985, Karen Washington has strived to make the Bronx and NYC at large a better place to live, spending decades promoting urban farming as a way for all New Yorkers to access fresh, locally grown food—and inspiring countless people as she’s grown into an advocate and leader in the field. Now, filmmaker Kate Walker is working to document Washington’s story and its connection to the larger social justice movement.
Congratulations to all of the young writers who submitted poems to this year’s Young Poets contest, and the winners who joined former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins for December 15’s annual reading. You’ll find their poems on display here at NYBG through the end of the Holiday Train Show.
As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Rob Naczi, Curator of North American Botany at The New York Botanical Garden.
I grew up north of Wilmington, Delaware, and I loved to explore, to discover, and to be out in nature. When I was in elementary school, my neighbor turned me onto birding. I would go on bird walks with him and our club nearby, the Delmarva Ornithological Society. On one of the trips, there were some people pointing down at some spring wildflowers, the ephemerals in the deciduous forest. I looked and thought, Hey, that’s interesting. Gradually I got so interested in plants that I wanted to take every moment I could to go out and explore.
As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Raquel Nazario, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer at The New York Botanical Garden.
My appreciation of plants began with my appreciation of the Robert Burns poem “A Red, Red Rose.”
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune…..
I love the fact that plants, throughout our shared human cultures, are symbolic of expressions of love, life, remembrance, and appreciation.
I take a walk through the Garden grounds nearly every day, and find moments, unique to each season, that capture these feelings. Nature, in its resiliency, offers a reflection of life and a time to reflect on our triumphs and hardships. Having the opportunity in the middle of the workday to experience the wonderments of nature helps me reconnect with myself and allows me to take on the remains of the day with the renewed vigor that only plants and nature can give.
As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Leslie Coleman, Plant Information Specialist.
I planted my first garden while living in Central London, and gardens changed for me—from places of flowers and sunshine to spaces of expression and restoration. I went on to get my certificate in horticulture on the grounds of the extraordinary Chelsea Physic Garden. What a world opened before me as the deeper beauty of plants came into focus.
I am particularly attracted to the science of plants. The ability to understand, explain, and predict is always exciting. But I also love the mixture of order, mystery, hope, and artistry in horticulture, and I think that plants often bring out the best in people. As a Plant Information Specialist at NYBG, it is gratifying to support so many different journeys in the engrossing world of plants.
As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Anais Garcia, a Summer Youth Employment Program Intern with Bronx Green-Up and the NYC Compost Project at The New York Botanical Garden.
At a young age, I was exposed to plants while living with my grandmother. I may not have quite the green thumb she does, but I sure do like to have plants in my household—it just brings a calm aura to everything I do at home.
I’m glad I chose this internship because it opened my eyes to plants I wouldn’t normally see in my neighborhood. I have experienced the beauty of various community gardens and how they thrive, and not only did I get hands-on experience in these gardens, but I also obtained new job skills throughout my time in the program. Some of these skills included managing inventory, using various software in support of our initiatives, tabling at events, and much more.
One of many experiences I really enjoyed was building a garden bed at Morris Campus Educational Farm. It was fun working alongside the students as a team to build the bed from scratch. By the end of the program, I felt proud that I had taken part in this activity because it’s something most people my age haven’t experienced.
From meeting new plants to meeting new people, working with these two amazing teams—Bronx Green-Up and NYC Compost Project—has left me in awe of everything they do in the City. When I first met everyone, I realized that they are not only a team, but a family, always ready to make a big impact on this world.
Coming this fall, #plantlove takes to the trees in “Chorus of the Forest,” an original composition by NYBG Composer-in-Residence Angélica Negrón that combines choral accompaniments in the Thain Forest with her unique digital plant interface to turn the anatomy of the plants themselves into music. Get a peek into her process here.
As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Joel Ramirez, Web Developer for Biodiversity Information Management in the Steere Herbarium.
My interest in plants started back in high school when I joined the Environmental Club. They offered a program with Wave Hill to learn the invaluable skills for pruning, growing, and composting plants. These types of school-garden partnerships in the Bronx with institutions such as these, including NYBG, help foster a connection between young adults and nature—educating students about the environment. Watching our school garden grow and become a safe haven was uncommon growing up in the Bronx. A “diamond in the dirt,” bringing peace into my heart. Nine years later, I’ve been able to fuse my passion for technology with plant science here at the Garden. Though they cannot speak, plants still communicate with us in their own way, and we must come together to ensure their well-being. Plants are the reason we’re able to live.
As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Livia Martinez, Undergraduate Science Intern in the NYBG Plant Research Laboratory.
Where did you grow up, and did that have an impact on your decision to devote your life to plants?
I grew up in South Florida, which I would say had a pretty big impact on my interest in plants. The flora of Florida and the Caribbean are truly unparalleled, and growing up around mangrove forests and cycads and palm trees created a subconscious love for plants that I did not grow to appreciate until I got to high school.
As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Jillian Elbaum, Manager of Adult Education.
I spent a summer working in the Jerusalem forest on an organic farm. More than just a CSA, and the source of bountiful produce to the local community, this farm also provided employment for young adults who had been kicked out of school or previously incarcerated. Working side by side with the other farmers as we tended to the endless rows of tomatoes, they told me about how coming to work each day gave them a sense of peace. They felt valued. I didn’t know there was a phrase for this until I came to NYBG. “Horticultural therapy.” I feel so lucky for the opportunity to foster the power of plants each day in the NYBG Adult Education program, where Horticultural Therapy is just one of the many life-changing programs offered.