Grow Together

Yesterday was the 34th annual GreenThumb GrowTogether conference. Gardeners from all over New York meet here to learn, teach and connect. This conference is a fabulous event with talks, workshops and various entertainment for little and big gardeners. We even get breakfast and lunch. It is the perfect way to begin the gardening season.

This year’s conference was special because it also marked the 40th anniversary of  GreenThumb, the umbrella organization of all community gardens in New York City. The conference opened with greetings by the Director of GreenThumb Bill LoSassos, The NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. The politicians pledged support for community gardens, something important considering the constant pressure by real estate development in this crowded city. We also got to see a performance of Brazilian martial arts by a the group Raízes do Brazil. The keynote address was by Karen Washington, a long-term community activist in the city. She reminded us of the history of community gardening in New York City, which began long before “urban agriculture” was a thing.

Commissioner Silver addresses the gardeners

Like every year, we got a T-shirt that was designed by a community gardener, here displayed by the GreenThumb staff.

The speeches were followed by three workshop sessions with themes ranging from food justice and community organizing to soap making and fermentation. Our own Eileen Ain gave a workshop about meditation in the garden.
Several members of LaGuardia Corner Gardens attended a workshop by the Butterfly Project NYC. During this workshop, gardeners were encouraged to track butterflies in their garden throughout the coming season. This citizen science project is designed to collect long-term data about the butterfly fauna in the city. We decided to participate, once it is time for butterflies.

Learning about butterflies

The day was actually almost too nice to spend entirely indoors. The garden beckoned with some flowers to look at and some work to do. It is still too cool for butterflies, but the early spring flowers are are now in full bloom and the daffodils are opening, too, just in time for Passover and Easter.

Hepathica (I think) and a Helleborus flower

The first daffodils and the last crocuses