#InTheLoop | Turn Your Thumb Green At Week-Long Conference On Urban Gardening
BY QEDC It's In Queens
It’s late February, and Queens is covered in snow. Obviously, it’s the gardening time!
With programs on such topics as wild plants, herbalism, and aquaponics, the NYC Parks GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference will take place from Feb. 20 through Feb. 27. Admission is free, and registration is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Every year since 1984, community gardeners have learned, networked, and reconnected during the day-long GrowTogether conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s activities are virtual and spread out over a full week. The schedule follows.
- 10 am: Keynote address by Sawdayah Brownlee (below photo), board president of the Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust, which preserves and conserves open space as community gardens in the two boroughs.
- 11 am: Plenary panel discussion with GreenThumb Director Bill LoSasso as moderator and the following participants.
- 11:20 am: Joshua Singer, Community Garden Specialist, Washington, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.
- 11:40 am: Kwangdeok Kim, Director of the Urban Agriculture Division, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
- Noon: Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, Nerima City Urban Agriculture Division, Tokyo, Japan.
- 12:20 pm: Kenya Y. Fredie, Sandy Pernitz, and Nate Moxley, Seattle’s P-Patch Community Gardening Program.
- 12:40 pm: Laura Niemi, Portland Parks & Recreation Community Gardens Program.
- 11: am: Virtual Scavenger Hunt. Participants compete to find common household items and be first back on screen. Cameras are required, and space is limited.
- 1:30 pm: DIY Screen Printing. Learn how to screen print tote bags, t-shirts, and more.
- Noon: Ginger Trial Share-Out. Container ginger can thrive in areas that are shady and not suitable for vegetable production. Cornell Cooperative Extension representatives share results from their 2020 Ginger Trials at John Bowne High School and participating urban farms, discussing seed rhizome selection, fertility management, irrigation, and best-growing techniques for bag culture.
- 12:30 pm: Crop Trials of the Diaspora. Kelly Street Garden members share the failures and successes of their recent African Diaspora crops. Learn histories and planting tips for pigeon peas, lemongrass, jute, bissap, and Central African eggplant.
- 6 pm: Information Seeking and Record Keeping: Important Tips and Advice for the Gardener and Horticulturalist. New York Botanical Garden librarians share resources and services available to the public from the world’s largest botanical, horticulture, and landscape design library.
- 7 pm: Ag in the City project team members discuss how soil and compost set the stage for gardening and farming success through healthy, productive soils.
- Noon: Weed Identification and Management. Participants learn fundamental botany used in weed science, receive an introduction to plant keys, and learn about weed control options suited to gardens, raised beds, and small sites.
- 5:45 pm: GreenThumb staffers talk about youth engagement in community gardens.
- 6 pm: Lion’s Tooth Project Peer Leaders show youth some cool ways to get pigments and color from used tea bags and plants. They also share the healing properties of the different herbs and roots.
- 7 pm: Empowering Youth in Gardens. This presentation teaches the tools to create youth-centered gardens.
- 11 am: Morning session with short presentations and Q&A.
- 4 pm: Afternoon session.
- Noon: Tomato Heaven! Presentation on how to start tomatoes from seed.
- 6 pm: Grow A Garden From Food Scraps. Learn to re-grow scallions and other veggies, propagate kitchen herbs, plant an avocado pit and other fruit seeds, and sprout dried beans.
- 7 pm: Cultivating from Cuttings. Learn how to take, root, and grow healthy cuttings. Walk through the selection process for cuttings and learn cutting techniques and how to root them.
- Noon: Intro to Aquaponics. Participants take a virtual tour of an aquaponics farm in Brooklyn. They learn about the aquaponics ecosystem and the different types of fish and vegetables grown on the farm.
- 5:30 pm: Friday Night Body Care. This workshop demonstrates how to make recipes for homemade, vegan, and cruelty-free bath and body products.
- 10:45 am: Storytime with Tammy Hall.
- 11 am: NYC Wild Medicinal Plants. Learn how to identify wild plants and study their nutrition, medicinal properties, and preparation.
- Noon: How to Make Soap.
- 2 pm: Lessons from the Seasons from Medicine Wheels around the World. This workshop explores the seasons through four different medicine wheels with a special emphasis on Spring. Indigenous and traditional cultures used the seasons to mark time and organize their lives. Many modern societies have lost these rhythms and cycles because of the demands to produce and consume the same things consistently throughout the year.
- 3 pm: Finding Ancestor Reverence. This workshop is designed to uplift, honor, and pay reverence to human ancestors through the experience of an immigrant woman. Study kitchen herbs — rosemary, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, garden sage, basil — to connect with ancestors.
Many sessions will be recorded and uploaded to GreenThumb’s YouTube channel after the conference.
Established in 1978, GreenThumb is the nation’s largest urban gardening program, assisting more than 550 gardens and more than 20,000 volunteer gardeners in NYC.
Above: GreenThumb; Below: Ryan C. Hamilton