Tag Archive | "New York Botanical Garden"

Food Planting Event in New York Botanical Garden Helps Address Food Insecurity in Bronx

The Children’s Garden at the Edible Academy located in the New York Botanical Garden. Henrietta McFarlane for the Bronx Ink.

The “three sisters”— beans, corn, and squash—grow in a semicircle shaped plot at the far end of Edible Academy’s vegetable garden in the Bronx. Beans grow wrapped around corn stems for support. The roots of beans fortify the soil with nitrogen, important for the growth of corn and squash. Orange, yellow, and green squash have large sprawling leaves that cover the ground below the beans and corn, which keep the soil cool and moist and prevent weeds from growing. 

“This companion planting technique was something that was taught to settlers by the Indigenous Americans,” said Edible Academy Educator Alyssa Markowski. 

On Sunday, the same technique was taught to elementary-school-aged children during the Edible Academy’s event “Dig! Plant! Grow! The Three Sisters.”  

Each child who participated was shown how to make a “Fiesta Corn Salad” out of the ingredients in the garden. Posters on small tables showed how beans might become soup, squash could be roasted and corn turned into spoonbread or fritters. Everyone was sent home with popcorn seeds to make into popcorn. 

The Edible Academy’s garden, tucked away in the north-east corner of the New York Botanical Garden, is a small oasis in one of the most notoriously food insecure areas in the nation: the Bronx. NYBG is responding to this nutrition crisis through the new Edible Academy. 

The Edible Academy, located in the New York Botanical Gardens, the Bronx. Henrietta McFarlane for the Bronx Ink.

According to Hunger Free America’s most recent report, one in four Bronx residents experienced food insecurity between 2018 and 2020. The borough also has the highest level of food insecurity in all of New York City. Households with children were about 15 percent more likely to report having less income for food during the pandemic, according to the NYC Health Epi Data Brief

“The pandemic has really highlighted the issue of food insecurity. Pre-pandemic rates of food insecurity were already unacceptably high for a country as wealthy as the United States,” said Kim Hekimian, a professor at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition. 

During the pandemic, economic barriers to food grew—45 percent of residents reported less income and 20 percent were unable to buy groceries due to lack of money for food. 

“Rates of food insecurity still remain higher than pre-pandemic,” said Professor Hekimian. 

Hekimian explained that people who experience food insecurity tend to rely on low cost foods that are cheap and accessible. Those foods tend to be high in non-nutritive calories such as sugars, sodium, and other non-essential nutrients. 

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that levels of childhood obesity surged to unprecedented levels during the pandemic. This is directly linked to inadequate nutrition. 

The Edible Academy runs regular activities throughout the year to bring awareness to this issue. 

“We have a program for school trip visits, summer camps, and scout groups,” said Ann Novak, the Edible Academy’s manager.

The most effective way to deal with the diseases caused by malnutrition is to prevent them from happening in the first place, Hekimian explained.

“It is important to teach children to grow food in an urban setting so that they are taught from a young age about fruit and vegetable intake, what dietary guidelines are and how to cook with these foods.”

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New York’s wet season sends mushroom hunters in frenzy, NY Times

The year 2011 is New York City’s fourth wettest year ever recorded and it is keeping mushroom hunters busy, the NY Times reported.

“It’s that kind of year that people will talk about in the future: ‘Remember 2011, the year the hen took over New York?’ ” said Gary Lincoff, author of “The Complete Mushroom Hunter” and an instructor of a mushroom-identification class at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

Even in a normal year, Mr. Lincoff said, “The city is a phenomenal place to go mushrooming.”

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Bronx botanical garden debuts world’s largest pumpkin, NY Daily News

A giant pumpkin from Quebec, Canada will be the center of attraction at the New York Botanical Garden’s Halloween celebration this year, the NY Daily Daily reported.

Weighing close to one ton, the pumpkin will be carved on Saturday at the popular Bronx venue.

“Every year they just go after bigger and bigger ones,” said Michael Nee, a curator at the Botanical Garden. “There’s no end in sight”

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[Video] Hot house!  A Caribbean ecosystem in the snow-covered Bronx

[Video] Hot house! A Caribbean ecosystem in the snow-covered Bronx

By Sana Gulzar & Manuel Rueda

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Edible Garden’s season finale

Celebrity chefs and gardeners teamed up on Oct. 17 for the season finale of the New York Botanical Garden’s Edible Garden exhibit to show visitors how to take their homegrown vegetables from the ground to their dinner plates – just like the pros.

Todd English giving audience members a taste of the beets he used in his risotto. Photo: Brent Ardaugh

Todd English giving audience members a taste of the beets he used in his risotto. Photo: Brent Ardaugh

Start small, and start easy, said Sonia Uyterhoeven, the gardener for public education at the New York Botanical Garden.

“Start with chili peppers, zucchini or tomatoes,” Uyterhoeven said. “Go to people’s gardens and learn what grows well in your neighborhood. Know the needs of the vegetables.”

The next step is learning how to cook them.

Todd English, the chef and owner of Olives Restaurant in Manhattan, taught audience members how to dress a side of risotto with paper-thin slices of beets, roasted in vinegar and wine.

“I call this my little treasure chest,” said English.

English used the risotto as a side dish for lamb chops.

“He’s a very amazing chef,” said Catherine O’Hara, an educator from Manhattan who had a front-row seat at English’s demonstration. “That was the most original, creative use of beets.”

Jennifer Rothman, 36, the associate vice president of children’s and public education at the New York Botanical Garden, coordinated over 200 cooking demonstrations since June, sometimes stepping in and doing demonstrations herself when chefs could not attend.

“I love the cooking demos,” Rothman said. “But tomorrow I have off, and I’m looking forward to that.”

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