NYCHA Gardeners: The Best People on Earth. Sounds like a marketing slogan. It isn’t but it should be. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable day with New York City Housing Authority gardeners and residents at the 13 Annual NYCHA Garden Conference at the James Weldon Johnson Houses in Harlem, USA on April 15, 2016. It’s a shame some folks stereotype, pigeonhole and otherwise see the world through the wrong glasses. They miss the world’s wonderful diversity. Life is often like being on the roadside with a flat tire. Your circumstances aren’t the best but that doesn’t mean there aren’t flowers by the road or they are less beautiful than those in a meadow in Martha’s Vineyard.
NYCHA gardeners have discovered that. They value their gardens and lavish them with love and attention in the midst of urban difficulties that would turn hair grey. Hundreds of NYCHA resident gardeners attended the 10 workshops during the day on How to Grow a Winning Garden to How to Improve Garden Soil or talked to the various vendors offering green services and information from composting to healthy eating. Unilever, one of this year’s sponsors, was proud to present their Growing Roots NYC Program and their chef and cooking crew prepared a very tasty Pasta Primavera.
The NYCHA Garden Program has reached a robust 54 years and is the longest running NYCHA initiative. With approximately 700 resident gardens in the 5 boroughs, NYCHA makes quite a statement to their commitment to on-the-ground resident involvement especially when communities struggles with balancing healthy eating and nutritious food with diabetes and growing numbers of inactive and overweight children.
Gardening is one of the most effective ways you can teach Environmental Education and combat community health issues (repeat that 3 times to yourself). The face of gardening is certainly tomatoes, collards, butterflies and sunflowers but the stuff behind the scenes addresses responsible land use, pesticides, soil science, urban agriculture, exercise, diet and disease. All that with a garden salad and a glass of ice tea on a sunny Saturday afternoon. That’s tough to top but that Urban Education Example (UEE) is repeated over and over again throughout the city and, in particular, NYCHA.
I’m glad to be a NYCHA Community Greener. I enjoy working with NYCHA residents and helping them to further develop the pride they already have in their homes and gardens. I look forwards to this year’s great events. I was able to take photographs when not running my workshop on How to Create a Winning Garden. You can find the links below for my presentation, photos of the gardeners and the Green City Force.
How to Create a Winning Garden
NYCHA Garden Conference 2016
Green City Force @ NYCHA Garden Conference 2016
Unilever Growing Roots Program
Filed under: CGGrows, Community Gardens, Community Green, Community Uncaptured, Events, NYCHA, Community Gardens, environment, healthy eating