Spotlight on GrowNYC Teaching Garden's Donation Partners
Updated: Apr 6
Any way you look at it, 2020 has been a wild ride. At the Teaching Garden, we are thrilled to have wonderful partners taking the ride with us this year: Chilis on Wheels, Black Feminist Project, and BloomAgainBklyn. These organizations have eased our garden's transition from teeming with school children to abundant in fresh produce and flowers. They have thoughtfully and tirelessly shared our harvests with New Yorkers throughout the boroughs.
Each week our team harvests, cleans, packs, and transports produce to either Chilis on Wheels or Black Feminist Project. BloomAgainBklyn brings out a team of volunteer florists every other week to harvest and arrange flowers in the garden. Let's take a closer look at what these organizations are working on and what happens after our flowers and produce leave the island:
Chilis on Wheels
Chilis on Wheels is a Brooklyn-born non-profit that provides vegan meal shares, free stores, clothing drives, and other community services. Early this year, they extended their food sharing programs to meet the needs of our communities with a pandemic relief program.
Co-founder Michelle Carerra told us: "After the produce is dropped off at Brooklyn Borough Hall, volunteers pack it in individual paper bags, and load it into cars going to Brownsville, and to Motts Haven, in front of a school. Here we distribute it, along with our vegan groceries, to elementary students and their families. Since the pandemic hit, they rely on our groceries to feed their families. When we have the fresh produce, the families are very excited and we receive all sorts of blessings. The kids in particular love when we have strawberries or grape tomatoes. basil and mint are a big favorite too. Fresh organic produce is hard to come by in some of our communities, and they love it when we say 'It's straight from the farm!'"
Black Feminist Project
Black Feminist Project uses food and reproductive justice as an entry to empowering Black MaGes (marginalized genders). They manage a garden, host an annual summit and run a young women's empowerment program. Early this year they also started the Corona Food Box program in the South Bronx. Since June, they have distributed over 9,000 lbs of food! Over 80% of the people served by this program receive a subsidized food box at no cost.
GrowNYC Teaching Garden is also donating cut flowers this year - a first for us! We have developed a partnership with BloomAgainBklyn, a non-profit organization that "repurposes unsold and once-used flowers into new arrangements which are distributed by volunteers to home bound seniors, local nursing home residents, trauma and homeless survivors, and others in need." Reducing waste and bringing joy to peoples lives, count us in! The organization has continued their efforts while redirecting some of their energy towards a unique brand of pandemic relief including distributing homemade cloth masks, holding zoom workshops, and working with their community to create floral collages and greeting cards to spread cheer to participants in their partner organizations.
Since June, BloomAgainBklyn has brought small groups of volunteer florists out to the garden bi-weekly to harvest and arrange flowers for donation.
Founder Caroline Gates-Anderson passed along some uplifting quotes from the recipients of the bouquets:
"The wildflower bouquets , made by BloomAgain volunteers and harvested from GrowNYC Governors island urban garden are so beautiful have lasted longer even then the usual flowers. Our nursing home residents love them. And we ( staff/ front liners ) were thrilled you gave us the lilacs. They are health giving and have stored positive emotions and renewal! Thank you BloomagainBklyn and Grownyc Governors island."
"BloomAgain journeyed to Governor’s Island Teaching Garden at the invitation of GrowNYC. This was a virtuous circle of nature’s bounty being enjoyed to its fullest, and it brought so much joy to our elder friends ( to homebound seniors)"
"The YWCA Brooklyn is honored to participate in the Bloom Again Brooklyn partnership which has brought great joy the women in our programs. We have seen firsthand how the gift of beautiful flowers has transformed the lives of our most vulnerable constituents. Working exclusively with low-income and formerly homeless women, most of whom are survivors of domestic violence, this program has had a powerful impact and has made them feel special and appreciated - something all too rare in their lives This is truly a revolutionary act of kindness and generosity... " - CEO & President Martha Kamber, YWCA Brooklyn
For more from BloomAgainBklyn, be sure to join us for an interactive, all-ages workshop led by professional floral arranger Lisa Oberholzer-Gee, using colorful fall leaves.
Fun Floral Design with Fall Leaves, October 28th @ 2pm
We are thrilled and so grateful to nurture these beautiful relationships with community partners throughout our city. In turbulent times, it gives us hope to be able to collaborate with individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make New York a better place to live for everybody.