On the evening of December 10, the Bronx Green-Up and NYC Compost Project team hosted a virtual Holiday Gathering to reconnect with their communities. Special guests included JV Cossaboom, NYBG’s Interim President and CEO; Todd Forrest, VP of Horticulture and Living Collections; Dr. Phillip Ozuah, CEO of Montefiore Health System; and Karen Washington, NYBG Trustee, activist, and farmer.
The virtual Holiday Gathering provided Bronx Green-Up and NYC Compost Project the opportunity to share with their audiences the programs, initiatives, and plans for 2021 born out of a year of uncertainty, social distancing, financial hardship, and the unfortunate loss of community members.
Kadeesha Williams, Community Horticulturist and Urban Agriculturist, spoke about Bronx Green-Up’s transition from in-person certificate programs, workshops, and workdays to a digital platform providing virtual tours, webinars, and organic vegetable gardening how-to videos to Bronx residents. She also highlighted the Bronx Community Farm Hubs, a collaborative network of 18 community gardens and farms and community-based organizations and volunteers in the Bronx, as well as NYBG’s Edible Academy. The Bronx Community Farm Hubs program was formed to address the community’s need for local access to healthy food at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects threatened the basic needs of so many individuals, families, and organizations in the Bronx. Read more about the Bronx Community Farm Hubs here.
Pamela Alvarez, Outreach and Education Coordinator, talked about the ongoing 10-year partnership with Montefiore Health System to provide annual tours to showcase Bronx community gardens and farms. Pamela had the opportunity to use her film skills and record the life and growth happening in these gardens and farms, in addition to interviewing the community gardeners and farmers who continue to maintain these vibrant spaces, even in the face of the pandemic. You can watch the trailer that was shown during the virtual Holiday Gathering here. Also highlighted was the Food Justice Webinar, which was held at NYBG’s Edible Academy and included representatives from the Corbin Hill Food Project, the National Supermarket Association, GrowNYC, the Bodega Association USA, Manna of Life Ministries, and the Bronx Borough President. Karen Washington was also celebrated by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who declared October 17 “Food Justice Day” in the Bronx in her honor.
Jodie Colón, Compost Project Manager, spoke about the work being done by NYC Compost Project staff and volunteers before the onset off the pandemic, including the annual Crazy for Composting “unconference.” She thanked all the individuals and organizations that sent letters of support, signed petitions, and testified at virtual hearings to advocate to City Council members for the re-funding of community composting in New York City after forced budget cuts in April. Thanks to all the support received, partial funding was restored to support Food Scrap Drop-Offs around the city. Jessica Tobon, Outreach and Education Coordinator, highlighted how NYBG is providing support and training to community gardens, community centers, and nonprofit organizations in the Bronx to serve as drop-off locations for neighbors to bring their food waste so it can be turned into compost. The NYC Compost Project is still looking for new partners in the Bronx that are interested in hosting a public Food Scrap Drop-Off. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance in becoming a Food Scrap Drop-Off.
The Holiday Gathering ended with an expression of gratitude from Ursula Chanse, Director of Bronx Green-Up and Community Horticulture, to community partners, volunteers, and organizations; NYC Parks GreenThumb; and the Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability at NYC Sanitation. The annual raffle tradition continued as participants of the virtual Holiday Gathering were entered for a chance to win sets of four tickets to NYBG Glow. All in all, it was a night of reflection, hope, joy, and community.
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