Ursula Chanse is the Director of Bronx Green-Up and Community Horticulture and Project Director for NYC Compost Project hosted by The New York Botanical Garden. For more information about these programs and upcoming workshops and events, please visit Bronx Green-Up.
During the dry days of May, In Good Company, a collaboration of values-driven businesses spearheaded by Clif Bar & Company, brought together individuals from across the country and Canada to be put to work in the South Bronx. Two week-long service projects in early and late May took place at Brook Park, a thriving community garden bordered by schools and an accessible resource for learning and play in the urban outdoors.
In appreciation, Harry Bubbins, Director of Friends of Brook Park, had this to say:
“Thanks to the expertise and incredible support from the staff at Bronx Green-Up of The New York Botanical Garden and GrowNYC, along with the In Good Company consortium and all their company members and employees, we have entirely transformed our almost one-acre site here in the South Bronx. We are honored to continue to receive the support of Bronx Green-Up and the partnerships and resources they are able to leverage for community gardens like ours. Without them The Bronx would be a lot less green.”
As the season comes to a close, vegetable gardens are put to bed and leaves raked up, Bronx Green-Up’s (BGU) Grow More Vegetables Certificate students have been finishing their volunteer hours and final projects throughout the Bronx.
Our Grow More Vegetables Certificate Series (GMV), taught by BGU’s Sara Katz, is an edible gardening course designed to equip community gardeners, teachers, and residents with the best organic techniques for growing vegetables safely and effectively. The program consists of six classes plus volunteer work at Bronx community sites where students can practice the techniques they have learned. As part of the course students design their own urban vegetable gardening project, which has two main goals: to grow more food and to pass on what students have learned to others in their community.
Recently, on a sunny Saturday at Taqwa Community Farm in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, just up the hill from Yankee Stadium, we worked with Farm School NYC students (a program of Just Food) to prepare several areas for planting and sowing cover crops.
As we head steadily into fall, many of our warm season vegetable crops have slowed down, and at Bronx Green-Up, we start encouraging the use of fall cover crops in the community gardens, school gardens, and urban farms in the Bronx. Cover crops, also known as green manures, are not grown to feed the gardeners, but rather to nourish the soil. They are perfect to sow after pulling out your tomatoes, peppers, corn, and beans.
On a sun-baked day in July 2012, we stood outside a new vacant lot, completely sterile and void of any plant or animal life, but there was an urban farm to come…
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization that provides critical services to refugees and asylees, had signed a lease with the NYC Department of Transportation, envisioning a new community farm to support their clients and also benefit the surrounding community. They asked for the help of our program, Bronx Green-Up, the Garden’s community gardening outreach program which has helped create community gardens, school gardens, and urban farms in the Bronx for more than 25 years.
There was promise from the start. On one early visit I bent down to pick up a plastic bottle near the entrance when I noticed a small piece of paper tucked inside—surely, it couldn’t be a message—but yes, the words asked if we were starting a garden, and stated that the person would be interested in helping out.