Greenhouse Newsletter | April

Upcoming Events

There are a lot of exciting new classes being offered at the Greenhouse and Kitchen! Come participate in a workshop on seed starting to kick start your spring garden, learn about identifying edible foods in the wild and using them in the kitchen with Chef Noah Sheetz of Chef’s Consortium, or check out one of our upcoming fermentation series classes! Click here to see our full schedule

The Greenhouse & Kitchen is located at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031

Plant of the month: Jade

Jade, or Crassula ovata, are popular houseplants worldwide due to the low level of maintenance required. Jade plants are succulents – they require very little water to thrive, and can survive in most indoor conditions. Healthy plants will live for a very long time, and can survive long periods of drought due to its ability to store water in its leaves, stems, and roots. Jade is native to South Africa, and can grow up to six feet tall.

In some parts of the world, jade plants are associated with financial luck, earning the nicknames “money plant” and “luck plant.” The jade plant is also known for its ease of propagation – plants will readily propagate with high success rates from both clippings and fallen leaves. In the wild, propagation from fallen branches is the jade plant’s primary form of reproduction. Jade plants have small pink and white flowers that bloom in the springtime, but may not appear on plants kept indoors.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Spring Frittata with Feta and Ramps

Ramps are wild, and now well-known at most farmers’ markets. They look like very skinny scallions but have a stronger, garlic-like taste. They start showing up at markets in early spring. Without ramps, substitute about half the amount in scallions, plus a small garlic clove, well minced.

Yield: 4 to 6 as an appetizer; lunch for 2-4

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • About 10 ramps, or a bunch, cleaned and chopped, including some of the green leaves (substitute spring/green onions, a few tender scapes, or a couple of shallots, finely chopped)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-7 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Sprinkling of chopped parsley or chives

Preheat broiler. In a medium (8-9 inch) ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron), heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium flame. Add the ramps and sauté until tender and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove to a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, add the eggs and beat lightly to blend.

Set skillet over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the skillet well. After a few seconds, add the egg mixture, shaking the pan a bit to make sure, it spreads out evenly, and return the sautéed vegetables to the skillet. Let cook undisturbed until you see it is starting to brown lightly at the edges, about a minute. Shake the pan to see if the frittata mixture is loose. If not, let it cook a few seconds longer. Don’t stir, just let the bottom set and even brown a bit. When the top is just starting to set (that is, it doesn’t look totally runny anymore), take the pan off the burner and stick it in a hot oven (or under the broiler, but watch it closely so it doesn’t burn). Cook another 5 minutes or so until the top begins to brown. If you don’t have an oven, you can flip it and cook the top in the skillet. The easiest way is to slide the frittata onto a plate, put another plate upside down on top, flip it all over, then slide it back into the hot pan.

To serve as an antipasto, cut into thin pie-shaped wedges and arrange on a serving platter. For a lunch dish, slide each frittata slice onto a plate and serve with a green salad.

Maple Vinaigrette with Dandelion Greens

Note: Dandelion greens can be foraged, however make sure you clean well and rinse a few times before using. Many supermarkets also carry them in the produce section. You may also substitute other greens like spinach and arugula.


  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots (optional)
  • dash salt and pepper


  • 5-6 cups dandelion greens (or substitute other greens, like arugula and baby spinach)
  • Approximately 1 cup (or 1 bunch) spring radishes, thinly sliced
    2-3 scallions or green onions, sliced

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well. Dress salad in a large bowl and serve.

Greenhouse Plant of the Month: Bloody Mary | Nepenthes ampullaria x (spectabilis x ventricosa)

The Bloody Mary is a grandiose, hybrid perennial pitcher plant with an attractive red hue. The pitcher works as a trapping mechanism for the plant as it is carnivorous and eats insects such as stink bugs, wasps, and yellow jackets. The parent species are native to tropical Malaysia, making this hybrid species well-suited for warm weather. This plant does well outdoors in full to partial sun or on brightly lit window sills. This tropical plant is also quite easy to care for since it is a fast grower and can reach a height of 18 feet!


About the Bloody Mary Plant

This plant is created from a female parent from the Nepenthes Ampullaria species and a male parent from the Nepenthes spectabilis x ventricosa species, which is also a cross breed between Nepenthes ventricosa and Nepenthes spectabilis. Nepenthes ampullaria is native to Zones 8 to 11, while the Nepenthes spectabilis x ventricosa is native to Zones 6 to 12, which allows the Bloody Mary plant to have such a wide temperature tolerance.


Stop by the Greenhouse at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park to view this thriving pitcher plant!

Greenhouse Plant of the Month: Papyrus | Cyperus Papyrus

Papyrus is a perennial sedge and aquatic flowering plant from the Cyperaceae family. The papyrus plant is native to Africa, known for its tall stature, and forms in clumps due to its rhizomorphous nature. It can grow up to an incredible 15 feet and spread up to 4 feet within standing water, boggy soils, or containers at the side of water gardens, pools, or ponds. Since these are tender plants, there needs to be careful watch of Papyrus plants in the winter as they prefer cool 60-65 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. This plant species thrives in Zones 9 to 10 and blooms from July to September. Papyrus plants need full sun to part shade while submerged in wet soil, making them relatively easy to grow if the right temperature is met. Papyrus plants make a great addition to any indoor garden or home with a warm environment!

History of Papyrus

Papyrus has a profound history of importance in ancient Egypt. Papyrus was a multifunctional plant for Egyptians as they found Papyrus could be used to make woven materials, food, and fragrances in addition to its primary use as a writing surface. Egyptians would use the stems of this plant to make paper-like writing material. The plant was cultivated and harvested heavily until it was severely depleted, but there are still small traces of Papyrus found in Egypt today. Papyrus is now cultivated as an ornamental plant.


Stop by the Greenhouse at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park to view the thriving Papyrus plant!

Greenhouse Open House Recap

Photos: Daniel Schwartz //

The Hort’s NYdigs Greenhouse & Kitchen Program and The Burpee Foundation celebrated our new greenhouse in Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park in mid-June. This free event was open for the community to explore the wonderful world of plants—both indoors and out.

Children and families hopped on the smoothie bike and blended their own organic green drinks made from The Hort’s secret farm fresh recipes (see below). Sofrito—also located in the Park—transformed mustards, chard and kale picked from our kitchen garden to make savory salads. Their famous Herbal Vinaigrette, a flavorful yet healthy salad dressing, was the perfect complement to our greens. Meanwhile, the Chefs Consortium prepared decadent berry treats like flaky scones and crepes topped with fresh, local strawberries. All recipes can be found below.

Kids of all ages enjoyed our DIY flower pendant, where chamomile and miniature roses were transformed into a living necklace—the real flowers garnished a small bottle of water and swayed on a rustic jute twine. To complement our horticultural therapy activities, health screenings were provided by the New York Presbyterian Hospital and a quiet meditation was led by the Shinnyo Center.

One of our generous sponsors, Mr. George Ball, Chairman & CEO of W. Atlee Burpee & Co., announced the winners of our seed and garden raffle. Both adults and kids alike were happy to win gardening kits, seed kits, curiosity kits, and more! If you missed the fun, please visit the greenhouse any Saturday from 10am-2pm at the Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park.

Open House Recipes

Click to view the full recipe card.

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Pumpkin Patch & Halloween Facts

Happy Pumpkin Patch!


At this time of year, 2nd graders have candy and treats on their mind – but wait, these orange drops are sweet and delicious too! Thanks to a generous allocation of City Council funds, Council Member James Vacca, these 7 year olds commuted from their classrooms to their gorgeous Hort garden, right on their school campus to harvest their perfect pumpkin!



Agricultural Origins of Halloween


Halloween is a yearly spectacle and beloved holiday of costumes, trick-or-treating, and carving pumpkins. It’s a night of candy and mischief, where children haunt the autumn streets and jack o’ lanterns glow. Many participate every year in the festivities, but few know the holiday’s ancient agricultural beginnings.


Celtic Festival of Samhain

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic harvest festival of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in.) Across Ireland, Wales, the British Isles, Scotland, and France, the night of October 31st marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.  This was a time to offer thanks for abundance and to make sacrifices to appease the gods for the coming winter.  Grain was reaped; mead (honey wine) and beer were brewed. Sheep and cattle were brought in from the pastures for the winter.  Old animals that were thought wouldn’t make it through the coming season were slaughtered and this meat, along with fruits and vegetables that would otherwise spoil, were shared in large festivals. Fairs, markets, and assemblies took place across the lands.


Trick or Treating

Samhain was considered a sacred time when the veils between our world and the “otherworld” were lowered and spirits, elves, and fairies would roam the earth. Bonfires were lit on hilltops and scary costumes were worn to frighten malevolent spirits. In Wales, young men would dress up and commit pranks, impersonating the spirits of the dead. Food and drinks were left out for the ancestors, which led to the modern tradition of giving out treats.


Bobbing for Apples

The practice of bobbing for apples can be traced back to the Roman invasion of Britain, after which the conquering armies incorporated their traditions into the Celtic festivals. The Romans introduced the apple tree, leading to the goddess of the orchards and abundance called Pomona being honored at Samhain with the divinatory tradition of apple-bobbing. Here, unwed young people would try to capture apples that floated in water or hung on strings. The first to catch one in their teeth would be the next.



The first Jack-o’-Lanterns were carved during Samhain in Ireland out of turnips and beets. The lanterns, hollowed out and carved with frightening or funny faces, were said to both represent the spirits that haunted the world during this time, and also to ward them off. When Irish immigrants came to America and discovered the native pumpkin, this large and hollow gourd replaced the turnips and beets as the vegetable of choice.

The name of the Jack-O’-Lantern can be explained by the myth of a clever but lazy blacksmith named Jack who tricked the devil into climbing an apple tree. Jack then carved crosses into the base of the tree to trap the devil. He forces Satan to promise to never take his soul to hell. After living a greedy and drunken life, when Jack dies, he is not allowed into heaven or the underworld. When Satan forbids his entrance to hell, he gives him an ember to place inside a lantern to light his way as he wanders the world for eternity.


Modern and Secular

After the Catholic Church came to wield great power, pagan holidays began to be supplanted by Catholic holidays. “All Hallows Eve” was superimposed over Samhain, with some of the old traditions coexisting with the new Christian holiday of “All Saints” and “All Souls”.  When these traditions came to America, they were secularized into Halloween, and the holiday came to be celebrated mostly by children. Though many have forgotten Samhain, everywhere we see symbols of harvest and mischievous spirits in the form of colorful corn, bales of hay, carved pumpkins, scary costumes, pranks, and general mirth.


Fall 2017 Workshops, Cooking Classes, and Free Activities with NYdigs

Looking for something to do? Stop by the Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park Greenhouse and Classroom to join The Hort’s NYdigs program for workshops, classes, and activities. Find information about some of our popular fall events below.

Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park is located at 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031

Workshops and Cooking Classes

Workshops and classes have a limited number of tickets, please register online or at the greenhouse at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park

Sensational Thanksgiving Sides: Healthy Twists on Classic Sides

Tuesday, November 14th | 6:30pm | All Ages | $10
Create delicious autumn-inspired side dishes perfect for the holidays or any day! In this course, you will explore different techniques, spice combinations, and preparation styles that will take a standard dish to the next level.

Register for this class


Fall Fermented Vegetables

Thursday, November 16th | 6:30pm | All Ages | $20
In this course we will cover the basic science behind making ferments focusing on using fall veggies: beets, turnips, pumpkins, and more. We will talk about why it’s good for you, and we’ll teach you how to make it yourself. If you are interested in Old World food preservation, gut health, or fermentation in general, this is the class for you!

Register for this class


International Breads: Sourdough, Injera, Idlis, and Dosas

Thursday, December 7th | 6:30pm | All Ages | $20
This class will explore the history, health benefits, and learn how to make Idlis(South Indian breakfast cake), Injera (Ethiopian flatbread), and Dosa (fermented crepe).

Register for this class


Artisanal Pizza & Toppings: Pesto, Ricotta, and More

Tuesday, January 16th 2018 | 6:30pm | All Ages | $10
Discover the art of pizza making and topping selection with this hands-on course. You will learn how to make artisanal pizza topped with house-made ricotta, kale, pumpkin, and more!

Register for this class


Free Activities and Events

The following programs are free and open to the public – no registration required.

Tea Time
Tuesdays | 10am-12pm | All Ages | Free
From hibiscus to green, make your own delicious & organic, herbal tea that will refresh and rejuvenate. Taste your tea with a book in the greenhouse or take it home with you!

Kid’s Nature Crafts
Saturdays | 11am – 1pm | Ages 3 – 10 | Free
Come by the greenhouse for kid-friendly, nature-inspired crafts, up-close critter investigations, garden books and more!

A Walk in the Park
Saturdays | 1pm – 2pm | All Ages | Free
Go on a walk and explore the environment of Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park. We will discuss the park wildlife, include binoculars for bird watching, and end with tea in the greenhouse.
*Weather Permitting

DIY: All-Natural Salve
November 21| 1pm – 2pm | Ages 18+ | Free
December 5, 19 | 1 pm – 2pm | Ages 18+ | Free
Salves are the perfect way to ward off the dry, cold season. Learn how herbal salves can protect and heal your skin. Take one home with you, too!

Print Making with Nature: Holiday Cards
December 1, 15 | 1pm – 2pm | All Ages | Free
Using leaves, petals, and other natural material, learn the basics of print making and how to incorporate the found material. Everyone gets to make a card to take home.

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Announcing a New Partnership with New York State Parks at New York City’s First Public Greenhouse

Credit: New York State Parks

The Horticultural Society of New York to lead a full slate of programs at New York City’s first public greenhouse at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park

On Thursday, September 28th, New York State Parks announced the opening of New York City’s first public greenhouse, which will become a center of urban gardening and nutritional educational programs at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park in Harlem. New York State Parks is partnering with The Horticultural Society of New York (“The Hort”) to offer community education programming and expanded access to fresh produce at the greenhouse.

Credit: New York State Parks

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “The Greenhouse will not only help community members of all ages learn how to use fresh produce to cook healthy regional and traditional meals, they will be empowered to grow fresh produce themselves. State Parks is grateful to Governor Cuomo and our partners for helping provide innovative park programs and facilities that help to enrich the lives of New York City families.”

The 2,160-square-foot facility includes a classroom/demonstration kitchen connected to a greenhouse, where plants can be cultivated year-round. With assistance from a full-time educator from The Hort, the nutrition education center will:

  • Present year-round education classes and public events on growing fresh vegetables and herbs and using fresh produce to improve family health and nutrition.
  • Offer programming for the park’s summer camp children ages 6-13.
  • Invite local garden and nutrition education providers to offer programs at the greenhouse, especially during the colder months when their outdoor facilities may be limited.
  • Enable community members to come together to select vegetable varieties to grow into seedlings in the greenhouse – which will be distributed to all participants.
  • Help Harlem residents access fresh foods at Riverbank through a youth-run farmers’ market and connections to Community-Supported-Agriculture programs.
  • Link up with Harlem public schools to provide classes for students and professional development for teachers to help them integrate activities involving fresh produce, cooking, and nutrition into their curriculum.

The $775,000 project was funded through Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 program as well as grants totaling $300,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and New York City Councilman Mark Levine.

Credit: The Hort

Sara Hobel, Executive Director of The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort) said, “The Hort is excited to be able to offer programs at this beautiful new education center, the first of its kind in a public park in New York City. Our horticulture and education staff will offer a variety of free and affordable gardening courses, special events, hands-on workshops, and informative conferences to connect all New Yorkers to plant-based wellness and nutrition.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “I’ve made it a priority to support projects that put gardening and urban farming within reach of more New Yorkers, because they improve access to fresh food while providing opportunities for education, healthy outdoor activity, and community-building. The programs this greenhouse will make possible will touch the entire community, enabling everything from year-round youth education programs to farmers’ markets. I thank Governor Cuomo and Councilmember Levine for supporting this transformative project.”

New York City Councilmember Mark Levine said, “”For countless members of our Northern Manhattan community, Riverbank State Park has been an invaluable resource for decades. Building this greenhouse gives our community an incredibly unique outlet to creatively engage in gardening and horticulture right here in our neighborhood. I am so proud to have cofounded this project with my colleague, Borough President Gale Brewer. And I am deeply grateful to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation and the NYC Horticultural Society for their commitment to operating this new facility in the years to come.”

Credit: New York State Parks

State Senator Marisol Alcántara said, “The opening of this greenhouse in Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park is a testament to the years of unceasing work Assemblyman Farrell has put it for his community. Our parks are one of the most important treasures in New York City, and having spaces like this greenhouse to keep plants year-round will not only provide green space in the winter, but also safeguard our park’s biological diversity. I am very proud to participate in cutting the ribbon for this project.”

All programs will be posted on the park’s website, in the park’s seasonal programming guide and on The Hort’s website.

Founded in 1902, The Hort is a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating the vital connection between plants and people. Its mission is to sustain the vital connection between people and plants. Social service and public programs educate and inspire, growing a broad community that values horticulture for the many benefits it brings to our environment, our neighborhoods, and our lives.

Credit: New York State Parks

The project is part of Governor Cuomo’s effort to improve and revitalize the New York State Park system. The Governor’s NY Parks 2020 program is leveraging $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 69 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Instagram and Twitter.

See more photos from the ribbon cutting

Credit: New York State Parks

Summer Days in Greenpoint

This summer, the Hort’s education team developed and led the Young Naturalists Program at McGolrick Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The program was free and open to the public throughout July and August. Students, mostly two to twelve years old, joined our educators for nature-themed classes. Additionally, as an ongoing project, students beautified a park corner – opposite PS 110 – where they and their parents cleared leaf litter, pulled weeds, fertilized the soil, added compost, and planted native perennials to attract pollinators to the park.

Each session encouraged the Naturalists to explore their park with curiosity and a keen eye. Tuesday’s Critter Club brought up-close inspections of ladybugs, worms, crickets, and ants. Wednesday’s Art in the Park displayed students’ inner Van Gogh through print making, water colors, collages, and rubbings. On Thursday’s, everyone grabbed binoculars for a special Park Exploration. Botany and Story Time on Friday’s were a huge hit as students explored the inner workings of plants. The Saturday Family Fun gave young naturalists the opportunity to plant and grow something at home!

By the end of the summer, the Naturalists located and identified red-wing blackbirds, monarch butterflies, sycamore tussock moth caterpillars, and countless other critters and animals who call McGolrick Park home. Plus, as a special treat, on the last day of the program students had the special opportunity to meet Crooks the Chicken!

The Young Naturalists Program is part of The Hort’s McGolrick Park restoration which includes improvements to the dog run, reseeding the lawn, and restoring garden beds. This project is in collaboration with the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn and the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance, and funded by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF). The GCEF is a joint program of the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

What’s growing at Rikers Island GreenHouse

Students at the GreenHouse on Rikers Island research, collaborate, and select which plants to grow in the garden. They choose delicious vegetables, useful herbs, and beautiful flowers. The harvest is different every year, but the lessons stay they same – cultivating healthier futures. Find out what’s growing this year:

Students at the juvenile facility – Sixteen & Seventeen 

Growing garlic is a true test of character.

Last November, when the garden at the juvenile facility was barely over four months old, the 16 and 17-year-old horticulture students planted cloves in deep, black grow bags. The large soil delivery had not arrived to the newly created program, so plant options were limited. The decision to plant this small crop required the utmost trust in seed garlic’s potential to produce in non-traditional circumstances.

As with all things in the garden, patience is critical. As you may know, gardeners plant seed garlic 6 to 8 weeks before the first winter frost. With such a long time between planting and harvesting, about 8 months, many students knew they would not be with the program long enough to taste their work. Despite this, they embraced their task and chose to leave something beautiful behind for those that come after – to step outside themselves as individuals, consider what it means to build community, and to think with longevity.

The students carefully made holes with their fingers in cold soil, buried them snugly, watered them in, and let them be. Throughout the winter, they covered it with a blanket of straw, cared for it, and watched it peek out of the soil. Then a new group came. These new students were thrilled to see strong green shoots in the spring and a harvest of full, hardy paper bulbs.

Cloves have now been used to make cold remedies, given to other facilities’ horticulture students to enjoy, and mixed into delicious herb cream cheese. All because of the trust, patience and investment of students eight months prior.

The main GreenHouse garden – Nineteen and Older 

Horticultural Therapists love using garden metaphors to emphasize lessons. It helps students relate to their lives, see things slightly differently, and engage with their work in the garden more meaningfully. This summer, because of the metaphor-love, students planted the “three sisters” corn, beans and squash for the first time at the GreenHouse.

Although all gardeners worked to wheelbarrow nearly 50 barrows of compost to build up and level the ground, two students took on the patch as their responsibility. They measured out fifteen 10X10 areas squares, planted four corn seeds in a cross, beans next to the corn, and three squash seeds in the center. Timing is important for the success of a “three sisters” planting.  The corn takes the longest time to harvest, yet if planted too early it can shade out the growth of beans and squash.

The “three sisters” is a traditional planting by the Native Americans in North America.  Each of the crops planted provides support for each other and a balanced diet for the gardener.  The corn is a natural trellis (supporting) for the beans to climb; the squash shades out weed growth (protecting); and the beans fix nitrogen (giving) in the soil for the benefit of all three sisters. During the season, the planting provides an opportunity to discuss the importance of recognizing and accepting each role we play in our family, work, or community.

Now, everyone looks forward to a bountiful harvest and a delicious meal together – one that connects us to the native peoples of this land.

The Herb Garden – Nineteen and Older 

The Herb Garden is one of the most popular places at GreenHouse. It features a variety of culinary, medicinal, and ornamental plants. Each plant is chosen as a group – building camaraderie and teamwork. Together, students learn the cultural importance of each plant, sow from seed, and put the harvest to good use.


Often, students do not have the opportunity to share with others. Even though a gift or a kind gesture goes a long way in a prison that can harbor tension and stress. The Herb Garden provides that opportunity: everything grown in the 28 raised beds is for the students to share.


Culinary herbs, such as rosemary, tarragon, and thyme become seasoning for meals shared to celebrate student send offs. Hot peppers transform into hot sauce or dried for seasonings. Chamomile, valerian, and wormwood, grown for their calming properties, turn into delicious tea, while lavender and mint combine for a sweet smelling sachet. Each outcome delivered to another – growing community and building trust.


Juveniles at the detention center – Sixteen & Seventeen

At a new program site for GreenHouse, adolescent students toiled to sculpt two new courtyards and a breezeway for their future garden. The site will come to include landscaped areas with annual and perennial ornamentals, as well as a full raised bed system for dwarf fruit trees, herbs and edibles. Unfortunately, the late arrival of growing soil meant they’d missed the mark for many annual vegetable crops. Not wanting to miss out, students diligently transplanted into dozens of felt grow-bags the most spirited, pungent and piquant members of the Nightshade family; the humble chili peppers.

In a carceral environment, the chili pepper is an obvious choice, especially among young people who love to challenge their peers.  Beyond that, the blandness and redundancy in daily diet is almost the exactly opposite of the varied sensory and stimulating effects delivered by a mouthful of capsaicin.

For many young students, the geography of the chili and immense pride taken in regional cultivars are a hallmark of cultural and familial identity. From Mexico to Mozambique, Jamaica to Jakarta, regional varieties are prized and praised: something to remember grandma by or to transform the lethargy of a hot, lazy summer afternoon. Hailing from culinary traditions the world over, the students have grown all the standards, from Jalapenos, Habaneros and Serranos to Bells and Sweets. Often, they will venture into the exotic with Thai Hots, Jamaican Scotch Bonnets, and the Indian Ghost Pepper (Bhut jolokia).

Fordham Foodie Fridays & Myrtle-Wyckoff Mini Market

 Fordham Plaza & Myrtle-Wyckoff Plaza will Host Popular Vendors on Fridays


As part of a pilot program for concessions in NYC Department of Transportation Public Plazas, the Queens Night Market and the Neighborhood Plaza Program, a program of The Horticultural Society of New York, are collaborating to host food and art/merchandise vendors on Fridays in Fordham Plaza in the Bronx and Myrtle/Wyckoff Plaza on the border of Brooklyn and Queens.

Starting on August 25th, local vendors, many of which are popular participants at the Queens Night Market, will set up all day in these busy commercial and commuter hubs.

The goal of “Foodie Fridays at Fordham” and “Myrtle/Wyckoff Mini Market” is to create activity in new or underutilized plazas while gathering important data on plaza usage, and also to provide a low-cost, low-risk vending opportunity for local entrepreneurs, artists, and makers.

“This is a great opportunity to get more involved in community spaces and provide more exposure and points-of-sale for small local businesses,” said John Wang, founder of the Queens Night Market and vendor coordinator for the pilot program.

At Fordham Plaza, jibaritos from the Jibarito Shack, palatas from Burmese Bites, freshly fried potato skewers from Twisted Potato, Asian buns from C Bao, and jerk chicken from Sunrise Catering will aspire to feed the hungry commuters and students returning from summer break.

Offerings at Myrtle/Wyckoff Plaza will include Portuguese pasteis de nata from Joey Bats Sweets, Puerto Rican pastelillos from Lily’s Sweet and Salty, Italian beef sandwiches from 2nd City Beef, and curated gifts from August Tree.

Vendors interested in participating can email for details.

Fordham Plaza (E. Fordham Road and E. 189th Street) is a major transit and commercial hub in the Bronx. It sits at the crossroads of 12 local and regional bus lines, the fourth busiest Metro North train station, Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus with almost 7,000 students, Roosevelt Educational Campus with 6,800 elementary and high school students, and Fordham Road, which is traveled by 80,000 pedestrians daily.

Myrtle/Wyckoff sits directly outside the busy Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs Station on the L- and M-lines on the edge of Brooklyn and Queens, is served by at least 6 bus lines, and is flanked by busy retail corridors. This new plaza has up to 700 pedestrians per hour in natural foot traffic.

The Queens International Night Market is a large, family-friendly open-air night market in Queens, featuring up to 100 independent vendors selling merchandise, art, and food and featuring small-scale performances, all celebrating the rich cultural diversity and heritage of NYC and Queens. It averages over 8,000 visitors each Saturday, bringing people from all over NYC to Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The Horticultural Society’s Neighborhood Plaza Program provides sanitation, horticulture and technical assistance services to 14 “high-need” pedestrian plazas. Under contract to NYCDOT, NPP works closely with Plaza Partners and ACE New York to nurture a robust network of neighborhood plazas across the city.