Teachers in the Garden Series: Educating and empowering people to improve their communities through gardening and urban agriculture

The Teachers in the Garden Series is a new online garden-based curricular resource for first-time gardening teachers. This is a new pilot project for Gateway Greening’s youth programs. Each 3-5 minute video teaches a simple/specific gardening task or topic and ties with various curricular connection ideas. As the videos evolved, Gateway Greening has tried to cater them for both teachers and students. That is, each video will become more than just a tutorial but a mini lesson itself. Check out an excerpt of the lesson on Seedling Care.

After your seeds have germinated, it’s time to properly care and maintain your seedlings to ensure healthy growth and easier transplanting. Light, water, ventilation, fertilization, and thinning are 5 key steps we will talk about. In Pilot 3, we sowed broccoli seeds into 3 peat pots. Now see how these seeds have fared over the past few weeks. Which ones are doing well? Which one failed? What factors might have caused these results? Watch the video and explore these questions further!

Click here to see the full lesson!

The Veggiecation Program, empowering children for the love of vegetables.

Veggiecation offers cooking classes that are educational, fun, healthy, and tasty! Cooking experiences make a positive and lasting impact and we now have the ability to bring a variety of Veggiecation activities and cooking classes to a larger spectrum of events!

Big changes start small. The beginning of your children’s lifelong healthy habits can start with a simple nibble from the veggies they will learn about, work with while preparing meals, and most importantly, have fun with!

A Perfect Healthy and Educational Activity for:

  • School Classroom Visits
  • School Assemblies
  • After-school Programs
  • Summer Camps
  • Girl Scouts
  • Boy Scouts
  • 4-H Clubs
  • Birthday Parties
  • Youth Farmer’s Markets
  • Health & Environment Fairs
  • Family Reunions
  • Community Block Parties
  • Community Picnics
  • Religious Gatherings
  • Veggiecation Parties

If you do not see anything that describes your event on the list above, do not hesitate to contact us, we will try our hardest to supply your children with a tasty and life-changing experience. Big or small, we will work with all!

Currently, we are available in all of New York City, Northeastern New Jersey, and Southwestern Connecticut. Contact us if you are interested in becoming a part of growing team of national Veggiecators!

Urban Educator

Story by DANIEL BEEKMAN (dbeekman@nydailynews.com)

Stephen Ritz, Uban Educator at  Bronx New Yok School talks about gardening on.

A celebrated classroom farm that yielded fresh produce and great jobs for students at a South Bronx public high school has been quietly shut down.

For two years, Discovery High School special education teacher Stephen Ritz used vertical garden plots known as “green walls” to teach science and technology.

He grew crops such as tomatoes and celery with his students, who sold some of the produce at school and donated the rest to a local food pantry. Lesson plans developed there are now used by the State University of New York.

“I’m disappointed….the kids loved it,” said Ritz, a veteran teacher, speaking out this week about the school’s termination of the Green Bronx Machine program last August. “It really took root because it cultivated minds and harvested hope.”

The city Department of Education referred questions to Discovery Principal Rolando Rivera, who failed to return repeated requests for an interview about why the program was shut down.

Ritz first began growing food with students years ago when he worked at Millennium Art Academy in Soundview. They cultivated plots at local community gardens. He created Green Bronx Machine at Discovery after meeting George Irwin of Green Living Technologies, a vertical garden manufacturer based upstate Ritz and Irwin set up green walls at Discovery, began growing veggies and developed a curriculum.

Meanwhile, students trained by Irwin through Green Bronx Machine snagged summer jobs installing green roofs. “We still get calls from all over the world to implement the program we developed in the Bronx,” he said. “We engaged students in science and math and gardening. We provided living wage jobs to young adults who society had written off. I don’t understand why the program was shut down.”

Ritz teaches troubled, low-income teenagers, but said every student who took part in the program has begun attending college or is on track to. “In the Bronx, we tend to eat not healthy,” said Discovery and Green Bronx Machine alumnus Nathali Soriano, 18, now at Monroe College. “But when you walked into our classroom, it had an organic vibe. It felt fresh. “Green Bronx Machine really put me on the right path,” said Soriano, an aspiring environmental lawyer. “It really helped me.”

The program won several awards and parents stopped by Discovery to buy fresh food. “Steve is a guy who can get people energized about healthy eating,” said state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who attended a farmers market at Discovery. “He has proven he can get students to care about school. I hope that continues.”

Green Bronx Machine withered last August when Ritz was moved to a basement classroom and told to stop growing food at Discovery, he said. Ritz did not blame Rivera, who he said was a “tireless, dedicated” educator. But Ritz admitted he is disappointed about the fate of Green Bronx Machine and hopes to revive it elsewhere.