Learning Experiences

Puerto Rican Heritage Month Celebration at The New York Botanical Garden

Posted in Around the Garden, Learning Experiences on December 5th, 2016 by Elizabeth Figueroa – 3 Comments

On Tuesday, November 22, NYBG held its annual Puerto Rican Heritage Month event celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of Puerto Ricans. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 400 pre-registered school groups and visitors attended workshops and presentations throughout the Watson Education Building, Ross Hall, and Ross Gallery.An array of facilitators led workshops commemorating Puerto Rican Heritage Month:

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At Amy Goldman’s Farm, a Plethora of Pepos

Posted in Learning Experiences on October 31st, 2016 by Todd Forrest – Be the first to comment

Todd Forrest is NYBG’s Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections. He leads all horticulture programs and activities across the Garden’s 250-acre National Historic Landmark landscape, including 50 gardens and plant collections outside and under glass, the old-growth Thain Family Forest, and living exhibitions in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.


Amy Goldman's FarmFor 47 years, 4 months, and 20 days, I just didn’t know enough about pepos. “What’s a pepo?” you might ask. Pepo is the botanical term for the fruit of plants in the Cucurbitaceae (gourd family). Sure, I knew a little about pumpkins, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. I had eaten Hubbard, acorn, and delicata squash grown, harvested, roasted, and slathered in butter by my brother-in-law, a gourmand who farms in coastal Maine. I even knew that the luffa defoliators my fresh-faced friends swear by are made from the dried fibrous flesh of a gourd relative native to Africa.

The little I thought I knew about pepos could never have prepared me for the bounty of beauty I encountered when I made the journey, with a group of NYBG trustees and staff members, to NYBG Board Member Amy Goldman Fowler’s farm in the Hudson Valley one glorious October day. Amy has raised the art and science of growing vegetables to a level unimaginable to those of us who tinker in backyard plots. With the discipline of a research scientist and the passion of an artist, Amy grows a bewildering selection of melons, squash, pumpkins, and gourds (not to mention tomatoes and peppers and who knows what else) on her farm each year.
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The Pepper Queen of Bronx Green-Up

Posted in Learning Experiences on August 24th, 2016 by Zakiya Tyehimba – Be the first to comment

Zakiya Tyehimba was an intern with Bronx Green-Up, the community gardening outreach program of The New York Botanical Garden.


ZakiyaThis summer I worked as a SYEP (Summer Youth Employment Program) intern for Bronx Green-Up. I’ve been working closely with both Bronx Green-Up and NYC Compost Project hosted by The New York Botanical Garden for the last six weeks. I’m sad to know my time with them is over.

I have had so many exciting, eye-opening experiences while working with Bronx Green-Up. One of my most memorable experiences is taking part in the Pepper Project. Bronx Green-Up collaborates with Small Axe Peppers and community gardens throughout the Bronx to create Bronx Hot Sauce, and I was put in charge of keeping track of how many pounds of peppers we received. Because of this task, I was crowned the “Pepper Queen.” On my last day, I was even awarded a pepper crown!
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Books for a Greener World this Earth Day

Posted in From the Library, Learning Experiences, Shop/Book Reviews on April 21st, 2016 by Samantha D’Acunto – Be the first to comment

In celebration of Earth Day, the LuEsther T. Mertz Library would like to acknowledge the march toward greener living. Two recent publications, held by the Mertz Library, highlight the collective and collaborative effort towards a greener world.


Greening Libraries by Monika Antonelli and Mark McCullough. Library Juice Press, 2012.

Greening Libraries
by Monika Antonelli and Mark McCullough.
Library Juice Press, 2012.

Greening Libraries edited by
Monika Antonelli & Mark McCullough

Greening Libraries is a compilation of essays and case studies surveying the different ways libraries are environmentally sustainable through design, outreach, and programming. Libraries in many ways have always been sustainable, but now libraries are trying to work alongside the community for a bigger and greener impact and Greening Libraries provides a peek into what libraries around the country are implementing to inspire change around them. Whether libraries are renovating their branches to comply with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements, providing educational programming, or building partnerships with local organizations that work toward greening their city, these essays highlight importance of the library being at the forefront of the green movement.

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Discovering the Nolen Greenhouse

Posted in Learning Experiences on October 5th, 2015 by Claire Sabel – Be the first to comment

Claire Sabel is a Junior Fellow at the Humanities Institute of The New York Botanical Garden.


Marc Hachadourian showing a horse-tail plant (Equisetum) to Humanities Fellows

Marc Hachadourian showing a horse-tail plant (Equisetum) to Humanities Fellows

The Humanities Institute at The New York Botanical Garden was launched in the spring of 2014 to support interdisciplinary research between the arts and sciences. The Institute brings scholars to the Mertz Library to research relationships between humanity and nature, landscapes, and the built environment. This summer, several Fellows joined the Institute to pursue research projects that focus on the Library’s collections, which are some of the best in the world for the history and practice of horticulture, botany, and landscape design. In this series, they explore how visiting living plant collections in the Nolen Greenhouse has informed their work.

As Humanities Fellows, we work primarily with inert objects: a printed page, handwritten letters, sketches from field notebooks, an occasional herbarium sheet. Between our various research projects, which you can read more about here, we cover centuries and continents, and almost everything we need to do so is contained within the rich collections of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library (with the occasional help of the Internet).

Part of what makes the Humanities Institute so special, however, is its position within a much larger and varied research institution and living museum. Although humanists typically make use of archives and museum repositories, the Botanical Garden has a unique set of special collections housed in the Nolen Greenhouses.
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Concrete Jungle Flourishes through Green-Up

Posted in Learning Experiences, People on August 28th, 2015 by Plant Talk – 2 Comments

Ken Iwuoha worked with Bronx Green-Up this summer, and will be attending York College this fall. Bronx Green-Up, the community garden program of The New York Botanical Garden, provides horticultural assistance, community organizing and training to Bronx gardens and urban farms. For more information, click here.


Ken readies a harvest of serrano peppers harvested from Bronx community gardens. The peppers will be made into Bronx hot sauce (http://bronxhotsauce.com), a product available at the Shop at NYBG and local Greenmarkets.

Ken readies a harvest of serrano peppers harvested from Bronx community gardens. The peppers will be made into Bronx hot sauce, a product available at the Shop at NYBG and local Greenmarkets.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ken Iwuoha. I am a SYEP (Summer Youth Employment Program) worker for the summer of 2015. I have worked for The New York Botanical Garden for over six weeks, with the Bronx Green-Up Program.

As an individual born and raised in the Bronx, I have adapted to buildings, construction, and pollution—the “City Life.” I used to think that planting a tree in front of your house was the best way of being green. After working for Bronx Green-Up, however, my point of view has changed completely. Donating plants and providing services to local community gardens and schools has opened my eyes to the beauty of the Bronx. read more »

A Collaboration Thrives in the South Bronx

Posted in Learning Experiences on June 25th, 2015 by Ursula Chanse – Be the first to comment

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.


© 2015 Clif Bar & Company

© 2015 Clif Bar & Company

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.”
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Citizen Science: Emerging Macroinvertebrates

Posted in Children's Education, Learning Experiences on June 25th, 2015 by Madeline Breda – 2 Comments

Madeline Breda is a GreenSchool Science Education Intern at The New York Botanical Garden.


Citizen Science at NYBG

Students performing abiotic water tests on a sample of water from the Bronx River

In early March, I posted a primer on the Garden’s Citizen Science program, focusing on the biotic water quality testing workshops offered to visiting students at NYBG’s own GreenSchool. Presented in partnership with the New York City Department of Education STEM Matters, Citizen Science workshops aim to educate children from all five boroughs about ongoing, “crowd-sourced” scientific research that is accessible to amateur scientists and laymen alike.

Over the course of the month of March, I had the pleasure of working with the students of P.S. / I.S. 87 Middle Village as they sorted leaf packs, bravely handled and identified macroinvertebrates, and ventured into the Thain Family Forest in order to perform site surveys. Under the guidance of science teacher Ms. Vivian Alforque, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders were all given the chance to participate in meaningful scientific research on the grounds of our historic institution.

Now, on to what I’m sure you’ve all been wondering: which macroinvertebrates did we find?
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Nurturing the Next Generation of Young Gardeners

Posted in Children's Education, Learning Experiences on April 29th, 2015 by Plant Talk – Be the first to comment
Children's Gardening Program NYBG

Adena uses a watering can to water flowers in the Garden.

A flock of migrating birds fly from one end of the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden to the other, flapping their wings and erupting with birdcalls as they go. They’re migrating from New York to Mexico and back again.

There’s one in pink shorts, and another in a NYBG t-shirt. One in a sunhat swoops past a bed of lettuce. These “birds” are actually children participating in a nature activity in the Children’s Gardening Program.

One of them, young gardener Adena Zitrin, and her mother, Debra Asher-Zitrin, have participated in the Sprouts program, for kids ages 3 to 5, for the past two years.

“It’s unlike any class we’ve ever taken—and we’ve taken music, art, and gym classes,” Debra said. “There’s something very bonding that goes on between the parent and the child in CGP. It’s very sweet, the working together that goes on.”

Debra’s two older children also participated in Sprouts and are now Crafters, the program for kids ages 6 to 12. read more »

Citizen Science: Coaxing Life from Frozen Waters

Posted in Children's Education, Learning Experiences on March 5th, 2015 by Madeline Breda – Be the first to comment

Madeline Breda is a GreenSchool Science Education Intern at The New York Botanical Garden.


In the Thain Family Forest

In the Thain Family Forest

“What is that?”
“What lives in there? Are they dangerous? Do they bite?”
And, loudest of all, “EWWWWWW!”

These are some of the many questions (and noises of disgust) hurled in retaliation to the dripping, mucky leaf pack I hold up at the front of the classroom. Water fresh from the Bronx River streams from the decomposing leaves into a bucket below, and an odor that could be described as either “earthy” or “gross” pervades the GreenSchool classroom. My charges for the next 90 minutes—a group of unsuspecting middle schoolers—want nothing to do with whatever is going on in that mess of organic matter. Little do they know that within minutes they’ll be clamoring to sort through the leaves and rocks and mysterious river sludge to find living treasures underneath…
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