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.

 

Jack-O’-Lanterns

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.

Supported By:

In Partnership With:

 

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 www.parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow on Instagram and Twitter.

See more photos from the ribbon cutting

Credit: New York State Parks

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 vendor@queensnightmarket.com 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.

The Hort’s High School Internship Program

Naval Cemetery Landscape

Over spring break, the Horticultural Society of New York led a 30 hour training and internship program for a group of 40 Brooklyn high school students focusing on urban gardening, landscape design, and green infrastructure. The experience was designed to engage students with their neighborhood’s green landscape by actively involving them in the maintenance and beautification of the Brooklyn Greenway and Naval Cemetery Landscape. The support of council members Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso was integral to the success of the program.

Making Seed Bombs

I was surprised at “actually wanting to dig in dirt and actually liking it”

The most useful thing “I learn[ed] was the difference between climate change and weather”

Now that the Naval Cemetery Landscape (opened Fall 2016) is open to the public, The Hort utilized the transformed space as a project site for students. With the program designed to split its time between traditional classroom instruction and fieldwork, the landscape served as an ideal work area – featuring native plants, butterfly-attracting cultivars, and a peaceful green space. The Hort’s education staff, along with guest speakers from the fields of environmental science, urban planning, and professional landscaping, led workshops on horticulture, soil science, green infrastructure, climate change, and the benefits of native plants. Fieldwork at the Naval Cemetery involved soil tests, tree surveys, architectural review, and insect study. Students also received job readiness training including resume writing, interviewing and job search skills.

“I’m surprised that green infrastructure is everywhere I go! Even on the roof of Barclay’s Center!”

“Before this program I never planted anything ever and I didn’t think plants were important”

Interns learned landscape maintenance techniques and best practices by working to beautify the Brooklyn Greenway. They identified and pulled weeds, improved soil conditions with organic amendments, and planted native, butterfly-friendly plants. The group also restored five street tree beds along the entrance to the Naval Cemetery by removing stumps and weeds, selecting and planting native perennial seedlings to attract pollinators, and adding layers of compost and mulch.

“Planting is actually pretty fun”

“One thing that surprised me was [how many] types of greenspaces there are”

“I learned how to better the environment around me”

The internship culminated with a certificate ceremony and celebration on Thursday, June 8th. To see more photos, visit our flickr album.

Plant Giveaway at Public Plazas

Join the Horticultural Society of New York’s Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and NYdigs program as we team up with Con Edison to host a plant giveaway in two Department of Transportation plazas! 

These free events are designed to bring the community together to inspire a love of plants and the environment, educate on how to care for plants, and introduce their plaza stewards. Those who attend will have the opportunity to talk to the horticulturists who green their neighborhood, meet local stakeholders who advocate for public greenspaces, and of course, take a plant home!

Stop by to show your support for clean, safe, and beautiful plazas!

Where and when can you find us

June 22nd | 2:00PM – 5:00PM** | Knickerbocker Plaza | Myrtle Ave. & Knickerbocker Ave. | Bushwick

**While supplies last

June 29th | 2:00PM – 5:00PM** | 78th Street Plaza | 78th Street and 34th Avenue | Jackson Heights

**While supplies last

The Hort, through a strategic partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), provides maintenance, support, and horticultural care at fourteen public plazas.

Family Fun Day at Riverbank State Park

On Saturday June 3rd, with the support of Council Member Mark Levine (Manhattan District 7), the Hort’s NYdigs program hosted a family fun day at Riverbank State Park featuring three of our favorite things: planting, exploring, and eating!

Set-up in the park’s busy courtyard, children (and parents too!) quickly found their way to the plant table – attracted by flats of Marigolds, Tomatoes, Basil, Dill, Parsley, and Carnations. They decorated their own pot, scooped rich soil to prepare the transplant, and chose which seedling to care for at home. At the end of the afternoon, over 200 plants found their way to new, happy gardeners.

With plants in hand, many families joined a nature exploration led by a Hort educator. Each explorer spent time searching for birds with binoculars, discussing the mighty Hudson River, and learning a new fact or two. Did you know there have been whale sightings in the Hudson?

Finally, Chef Noah Sheetz prepared three delicious, all-natural recipes for everyone totaste. A beautiful, purple beet hummus served with crackers and veggies prepared the palate; which gave way to a satisfying vegetable and root salad; and finished with a chocolaty, crunchy quinoa energy bite! The recipes are below if you would like to recreate the delectable experience.

 

Recipes by Chef Noah Sheetz

 

PS 83X Learning Garden Revitalization

During an early April week, the Hort’s GreenTeam revitalized the overgrown garden near the entrance of PS 83X in the Bronx. The project, made possible by Council Member James Vacca, transformed the outdoor space from a line of scruffy evergreens to an outdoor classroom and garden, fully furnished with sixteen tree stump seats!

With school empty during the summer,  elements of the design and plant list were specially curated to survive New York’s hottest and driest months with little care. Our horticulturists chose to highlight drought resistant plants like Coral Bells, Shadbush, Ajuga, and Red Twig Dogwood.

The learning garden, located next to the school’s entrance, was also rejuvenated. The six raised garden beds received much needed repairs, a fresh supply of soil and compost, and a surrounding layer of mulch. Each of the six 2nd grade classes at PS83X will have their own bed to sow seeds, learn about plants, and grow vegetables throughout the school year.

The partnership also brings Hort educators to PS 83X to teach over 200 second graders how to identify and plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers – emphasizing the importance of plant science. Everyone is excited for a beautiful new outdoor learning space where they can release ladybugs, learn about garden pests, and offer a fun, hands on look at our natural world. Before the school year is out, every 2nd grade student will transplant seedlings they started and nurtured in their classroom.

Check out the Flickr album below to see great photos from the project!

PS83 X Students

Introducing NYdigs: Plant-based Nutrition & Wellness Education

In 2017, the Horticultural Society of New York will launch NYdigs, a community outreach program that will connect New Yorkers to plant-based nutrition and wellness education. Offering a variety of free and affordable gardening courses, special events, hands-on workshops, and informative conferences, NYdigs will educate New Yorkers about how gardens, landscapes, and green infrastructure can positively affect their communities, families, and lives.

NYdigs will host programs, conferences, and special events throughout the city. From the art of making soap, to the benefits of cooking with fresh vegetables, to our Urban Agriculture Conference, programs and events will be rooted in the Hort’s mission: cultivating the vital connection between people and plants.

To stay up-to-date on all things NYdigs, sign up for our mailing list or visit our NYdigs webpage: thehort.org/nydigs

NYdigs is proudly sponsored by Burpee Seeds and Plants.

For a Refreshing Summer, Grow a Smoothie Garden

 

As you walk through New York City, it is hard not to find a store that offers green juices, kale shakes, and fruit smoothies. The health benefits of certain smoothies and juices, particularly green ones, are well-documented and common knowledge. Not only do these nutrient packed cups provide a condensed supply of our daily fruits and vegetables, which can be difficult to get amidst modern living, but they also tend to be quite delicious. At The Hort, we think it’s a great idea to fuse this healthy ‘fast food’ with your horticultural skills to cultivate your very own smoothie garden. Making your own smoothies can be a great way to save money, reduce plastic use, and increase your vitamin intake.

There are many options for what to grow in your smoothie garden. Green vegetables are important main components of any smoothie as they provide energy, stress relief, vitamins, and antioxidants in abundance. Nutrient dense fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries add essential vitamins and sweetness.

When planning your garden this spring, keep these vegetables and fruits in mind for delicious, healthy smoothies:

Vegetables

Celery is a surprisingly healthy vegetable but, fair warning, a bit difficult to grow. It requires copious watering, fertilizer and compost; however, the homegrown stuff tastes unlike anything at the grocery. Not only is celery loaded with anitoxidants, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium, but it also can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Did you know one serving of Broccoli offers roughly 10% of your daily value of protein? It is also chock-full of calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Carrots, being a semi-sweet vegetable, bring a unique flavor and an immunity boost to juices. Studies have shown that eating carrots greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Radish will add a nice spicy bite to your drink, the kind we often get from Ginger. The bright red vegetable is loaded with vitamin C, aids digestions, and known to help prevent viral infections. Don’t forget to add the folic acid-rich radish leaves too!

Fennel is another fantastic taste booster and as a cousin of celery; it has terrific health benefits. Fennel is a digestive aid, skin brightener, and brings a full stalk of antioxidants.

Fruit

Blueberries, America’s second favorite berry, comes with some surprising health benefits. Research has shown that these delicious orbs can benefit the nervous system and improve memory.

Far and away the most popular berry, Strawberries provide many antioxidants and plant compounds, vitamin C and manganese.

Raspberries have been known to increase metabolism in fat cells and help with the digestive process.

Smoothie gardens can be planted in the ground, in pots, or in raised beds — essentially anywhere as long as they are properly cared for and given ample room to grow. Various flower and herbs, such as mint and basil, can be arranged among the rows and the corners for a special smoothie twist. The flowers serve an important function by attracting pollinators to the plants.

So get out that sturdy blender and turn those extra veggies or your new garden into a yummy and fresh summer treat. For a great, delicious smoothie, try this simple formula: 

2 cups leafy greens or vegetables

2 cups liquid base

3 cups ripe fruit

Try freezing your fruit for a chilled, and frosty consistency. Add a 1/4 cup fresh mint for a unique flavor too!