Plant Talk

Bronx Councilmembers Plant and Harvest Vegetables at NYBG’s Edible Academy for Produce Donations to the Community

Posted in Behind the Scenes , Garden News on June 7, 2020, by Stevenson Swanson

Stevenson Swanson is Associate Director of Public Relations at The New York Botanical Garden.

Photo of child harvesting vegetables

Aidan Salamanca (center) harvests lettuce under the watchful eyes of his father, New York City Councilmember Raphael Salamanca Jr. (left) and Toby Adams (right), the Gregory Long Director of the Edible Academy.

During recent visits to The New York Botanical Garden, four New York City Councilmembers representing Bronx districts joined members of the Edible Academy staff in planting and harvesting vegetables, gaining first-hand experience in how NYBG is growing food for donations to Bronx organizations that are on the front lines of helping people during these uncertain times.

Over the course of two days—May 27 and May 29—Councilmembers Raphael Salamanca Jr., Andrew Cohen, Vanessa Gibson, and Ritchie Torres planted tomato and basil seedlings, harvested leaf lettuce, and took part in other activities at the Edible Academy.

Normally, the young plants sprouting in the Edible Academy’s Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden would be tended by New York City schoolchildren and families as part of the Edible Academy’s educational programs, which teach children how to not only grow edible plants but also incorporate them into healthful diets. During NYBG’s temporary closure, those programs have been suspended, but the fertile soil is not lying fallow.

Photo of councilmembers in the Edible Academy

Participants in the May 27 visit were (left to right) Han Yu Hung, Edible Academy Coordinator; Odis Guerrero, Director of Community Relations for Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez; Ariana Collado, Chief of Staff to New York City Councilmember Andrew Cohen; Angel Hernandez, NYBG Director of Government Relations; Manuel Boya and his mother, Community Board 7 District Manager Ischia Bravo; New York City Councilmember Andrew Cohen; Carrie Rebora Barratt, Ph.D., CEO and The William C. Steere Sr. President, The New York Botanical Garden; New York City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. and his son, Aidan; and Toby Adams, the Gregory Long Director of the Edible Academy.

Instead, Edible Academy staff members have been busy planting and growing a wide assortment of vegetables for the local community.

Produce at the Edible Academy is being donated to Part of the Solution (POTS), which provides food and other services to 30,000 Bronx residents a year, and the James J. Peters Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital, whose medical and support staffs have been on the front line of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about earlier donations to POTS and the VA hospital.

During their visit, Councilmembers saw for themselves that NYBG’s efforts to help the community during this difficult period go beyond produce donations. Neatly arrayed on tables in the Edible Academy’s Teaching Greenhouse were more than 6,000 seedling plants that are slated to be donated to community gardens throughout the Bronx. The gardens have an ongoing relationship with NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up program.

The seedlings, including basil, assorted tomatoes, kale, collard greens, peppers, eggplant, chard, and zucchini, will help those community gardens become food hubs for the residents they serve.

These initiatives continue NYBG’s 129-year history of serving the people of the Bronx and being a resource in times of need.

Because of the support of the New York City Council and others, the Edible Academy school partnership program was able to shift gears and provide fresh, organic produce to important Bronx organizations. NYBG especially thanks Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilmembers Cohen, Gibson, Salamanca, and Torres.

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