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Photo by Rick Darke

Sustainable
Gardens
Project

 

Launched in the fall of 2019, the Sustainable Gardens Project is a High Line pilot program that supports the initiation or expansion of innovative urban gardening projects focused on cultivating pollinator plants across New York City. The participants in our inaugural session are Brighter Choice Community School, Kelly Street Garden, JM Rapport School for Career Development Farm/Garden, The Farmers Garden, and DeWitt Clinton High School Campus. These five gardens will work with our horticulture team to attain technical assistance and knowledge, but, most importantly, to start a peer network of community-led, self-determined gardens.

 

Launched in the fall of 2019, the Sustainable Gardens Project is a High Line pilot program that supports the initiation or expansion of innovative urban gardening projects focused on cultivating pollinator plants across New York City. The participants in our inaugural session are Brighter Choice Community School, Kelly Street Garden, JM Rapport School for Career Development Farm/Garden, The Farmers Garden, and DeWitt Clinton High School Campus. These five gardens will work with our horticulture team to attain technical assistance and knowledge, but, most importantly, to start a peer network of community-led, self-determined gardens.

 

Why?

Worldwide, pollinators and insects are under increased threat of extinction from the effects of climate change. As a park committed to environmental sustainability, including integrated pest management, composting onsite, and pollinator-friendly practices, we recognize the urgency in addressing this critical issue.

The High Line is home to 110,000 plants representing nearly 530 species, 15 distinct planting zones, and over 30 species of wild bees, including small carpenter bees and seven of the 15 Hylaeus (masked bee) species that live in New York State. On the park, bees and other pollinators are essential partners in keeping our plants healthy. But many of the species are threatened by disease, pesticides, mold, and habitat loss.

Studies show that even the smallest urban gardens offer an important opportunity for assisting ailing pollinator species and improving people’s quality of life, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Often a single tree or pond is enough to support entire populations of insects within their confines. As such, we seek to ignite civic connection by creating a cohort of active-learning gardeners who will rise to the imminent challenges presented by climate change.

The High Line Sustainable Gardens Project awarded the inaugural group of five community-based garden projects with stipends of $1,000. The stipend supports the initiation or expansion of a solutions-based project that addresses the rising threat of pollinator extinction and sustainable practices.

In addition to financial support, recipients are creating a peer learning network. Over the course of the year, cohort members will participate in three professional development workshops led by experts in the field. Topics include project management, sustainable garden design, and organic land management. Participants also receive site assessments and one-on-one consultations with the High Line horticulture department to help support the long-term development of their projects and sustainability of their gardens.

The High Line horticulture department consists of 12 gardeners with expertise ranging from beekeeping, native plants, urban agriculture, green roof design, irrigation, composting, and bioremediation.

The Sustainable Gardens Project is a follow-up to the Community Parks Initiative (CPI). From 2015 – 2019, we proudly partnered with NYC Parks in supporting open space stewardship through CPI. Led by Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, CPI was an investment in public parks with the greatest needs across New York City. The High Line was one of eight conservancy organizations that participated in CPI by sharing resources in design, project management, horticulture, programming, public art, advocacy, and capacity building. 

 

Why?

Worldwide, pollinators and insects are under increased threat of extinction from the effects of climate change. As a park committed to environmental sustainability, including integrated pest management, composting onsite, and pollinator-friendly practices, we recognize the urgency in addressing this critical issue.

The High Line is home to 110,000 plants representing nearly 530 species, 15 distinct planting zones, and over 30 species of wild bees, including small carpenter bees and seven of the 15 Hylaeus (masked bee) species that live in New York State. On the park, bees and other pollinators are essential partners in keeping our plants healthy. But many of the species are threatened by disease, pesticides, mold, and habitat loss.

Studies show that even the smallest urban gardens offer an important opportunity for assisting ailing pollinator species and improving people’s quality of life, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Often a single tree or pond is enough to support entire populations of insects within their confines. As such, we seek to ignite civic connection by creating a cohort of active-learning gardeners who will rise to the imminent challenges presented by climate change.

The High Line Sustainable Gardens Project awarded the inaugural group of five community-based garden projects with stipends of $1,000. The stipend supports the initiation or expansion of a solutions-based project that addresses the rising threat of pollinator extinction and sustainable practices.

In addition to financial support, recipients are creating a peer learning network. Over the course of the year, cohort members will participate in three professional development workshops led by experts in the field. Topics include project management, sustainable garden design, and organic land management. Participants also receive site assessments and one-on-one consultations with the High Line horticulture department to help support the long-term development of their projects and sustainability of their gardens.

The High Line horticulture department consists of 12 gardeners with expertise ranging from beekeeping, native plants, urban agriculture, green roof design, irrigation, composting, and bioremediation.

The Sustainable Gardens Project is a follow-up to the Community Parks Initiative (CPI). From 2015 – 2019, we proudly partnered with NYC Parks in supporting open space stewardship through CPI. Led by Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, CPI was an investment in public parks with the greatest needs across New York City. The High Line was one of eight conservancy organizations that participated in CPI by sharing resources in design, project management, horticulture, programming, public art, advocacy, and capacity building. 

Brighter Choice Community School (BCCS)

BCCS is a public elementary school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The garden is managed by Edible Schoolyard NYC (ESYNYC) and is used as a hands-on classroom for weekly classes. Classes connect students to where their food comes from, encourages them to try new foods, and builds leadership skills and environmental stewardship. The garden consists of primarily edible plants and is maintained by ESYNC staff as well as volunteers.

Their Sustainable Gardens Project initiative is to turn 1520 square foot area into a teaching pollinator garden consisting of berry bushes and perennial pollinator flowers. Through classes with ESNYC, students will learn about pollination, harvesting berries, flower and plant identification, and increase comfort levels with insects.

Kelly Street Garden

Kelly Street Garden was organized as a reaction to the disinvestment and food insecurity in the Bronx. Their mission is the physical, emotional, holistic, nutritional, mental, and psychological wellness of their neighbors. The Kelly Street Garden is a social justice project bringing fresh produce into the South Bronx. Their initiative begins with working alongside residents in Kelly Street to grow their own vegetables, herbs, and flowers in a sustainable and pesticide-free environment. They’re also actively participating and engaging in community forums, engaging in resident dialogues, and expanding their initiative to the surrounding community who struggle to access nutritional and affordable food.

Their Sustainable Gardens Project initiative seeks to increase crop production through expanding the diversity of pollinator life in the garden.

JM Rapport School for Career Development Farm/Garden

The JM Rapport School for Career Development in the Bronx is a special education high school for at-risk students with emotional disturbance and other disabilities. In their horticulture program, students learn to question their current food system and to find ways to disrupt it through their own actions. The School has an outdoor edible garden, five hydroponic systems, an aquaponic system, and chickens. Students learn to store food through pickling, canning, dehydrating, and other methods, and learn to cook using the things that they grow in a true farm-to-table experience in the city.

For their Sustainable Gardens Project, they will add a native plants garden to their site including edible native plants, like berries and possibly a paw-paw tree. By adding native plants around the perimeter of their school, it will beautify the school, attract pollinators to their vegetable garden, and also allow a new portion of the school to become an outdoor classroom that will educate students about the importance of pollinators firsthand.

The Farmers Garden

Located in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, The Farmers Garden re-opened this summer after being abandoned for several years. The mission of Farmers Garden is to build a community garden that acts as a space for educating residents of Ocean Hill, Bushwick, and Brownsville in using urban agriculture as a practice for healing, community building, and developing economic literacy centered around communities of color.
The goals of their Sustainable Gardens Project are to create a thriving habitat for small and large life forms—especially at-risk pollinator species and beneficial native plants typically marginalized in the cityscape—promote horticultural practices that protect the value and uniqueness of the bioregion, and nurture community well-being by maintaining a safe and open space to practice environmental stewardship and civic engagement.

James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center

James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center utilizes the existing and planned school resources, grounds, and gardens of DeWitt Clinton High School Campus in the Bronx to develop programs in outdoor environmental education for sustainable living and food preparation and services. Their goal is to build a healthier Bronx community by engaging, integrating, educating, and serving students and community members—especially low-income and marginalized people—in collaboration with numerous partner organizations with common interests.

Their Sustainable Gardens Project will introduce native grasses in the area to absorb and filter contaminated stormwater from the parking lot and also plant pollinator loving species and various berry bushes nearby, with the aim to convert their plot into a productive sustainable garden.


Next open call

The next call for applications to participate in the Sustainable Gardens Project will be in September 2020. All gardens and individual gardeners working in or with New York City community gardens of all types are encouraged to apply. Examples include, but are not limited to: residential gardens, NYCHA gardens, public school rooftop gardens, and playing fields. Eligible projects will have a clear goal of advancing pollinators through gardens created for community use. Ideally, projects will seek to serve communities located in low-income neighborhoods. Applications will be reviewed by our horticulturalists and community partners.

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