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Featured Garden of the Month: P.S. 32 (Samuel Mills Sprole School) 
Raised Beds at P.S. 32


     In January of 2011, a group of parents and teachers from P.S. 32 met to discuss how to make the school greener and improve nutritional awareness of the students. What came out of the discussion was an idea for a garden! As their plans began to emerge, the principal, Deborah Florio, signed on wholeheartedly and gave two staff members time during school to map out how each grade could incorporate the garden into the curriculum. What resulted was a spiraling curriculum of NY State mandated studies in both Science and Social Studies for all of the students Pre-K through 5th grade. The emerging intent became to realize the full potential of the garden as a tool for experiential and inquiry-based learning, community strengthening, and encouraging healthier eating habits.

     With support from Ms. Florio, the P.S. 32 PTA, the custodial staff, and a mini-grant from Grow to Learn, P.S. 32 was able to build three 4'x8' sub-irrigated, edible beds by late Spring 2011. During the 2011-2012 school year, all 298 students have interacted with the garden in the classroom, in lunch clubs, and special demonstrations. The garden will continue to be maintained and utilized during the summer by partnering with Good Shepherd Services and the ASD NEST summer camp that is hosted at our school.


     During this past school year, a sensory garden has been added, and the amount of edible gardening space has more than doubled. A composting center has also been added to the scene, and, thanks to the vigilant efforts of the parent volunteers, a greenhouse has been salvaged from a defunct gardening supply business. The students are very excited about the garden and hover in clusters whenever parents or staff are working in the garden. In a recent survey the PTA sent out to parents about school food, one student said, "I really like the idea of a salad bar, especially if I can grow some of the food, because I would know it was my food, and I would be proud tasting it." This sentiment has been obvious to the staff who have harvested and served some of the produce to their classes. Their enthusiasm has also been apparent when drying herbs, dissecting bulbs, logging observations in their garden journals, composting, tending worm bins, making compost tea, and touching, smelling, and viewing all the new plants in the sensory garden.


     All this has been accomplished thanks to the dedication of a handful of parents, support of the teaching staff, administration, and the awesome custodial staff. Crucial financial and material support have been provided by Grow To Learn, GreenThumb, grants from Citizens Committee of NYC and Brown Rudnick, Liberty Sunset Garden Center, and the Trust for Public Lands. Additionally, GreenThumb's Americorp Member, Matt Mili, has been working with the garden committee to strengthen the garden's position in the school community and supporting teachers as they implement new lessons into their curriculum for the first time. With his help, the students have planted and harvested tomatoes, beans, beets, herbs, salad greens, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, swiss chard, bulbs, and a three sisters garden.

     "The first year of the garden has been full of learning, making new friends, tasting good tastes, trying new things, and asking awesome questions! We're sure that this is just the beginning, and that the garden will grow into a pleasurable and valuable resource for our school. Thank you Grow to Learn for all the support!" 

Drying herbs in the classroom


Interested in being featured as our Garden of the Month? Send us a paragraph about your school garden and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of the Grow to Learn Newsletter. 


Read about our Featured Gardens at  

Thanks Kasey and Andrea!

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It is with sadness that we say goodbye to Kasey Boyer and Andrea Shane, our two Civic Corps members who have been with us for the past ten months. Thanks in part to their efforts, Grow to Learn has registered 107 school gardens (current total=224), increased visibility on Facebook, and spread the word about the benefits of school gardens around the city. They have also helped to oversee three rounds of mini-grant applications, managing and responding to 182 applicants. Their work and expertise has been greatly appreciated at garden builds, Randall's Island Learning Garden, Wanaqua Community Garden, and teacher trainings. Kasey and Andrea's presence on the Grow to Learn team has helped to create a warm and collaborative work environment and they will surely be missed. We wish them all the luck in their future endeavors and are forever grateful for their service. Thank you NYC Service for matching us up with such dedicated Civic Corps members!

Seed Money!

With the 2012 growing season upon us, we're sure your school is dreaming of ways to expand your gardens. Check out the recently updated grant opportunities listed on our updated seed money page! And, Grow to Learn sponsor, Green Mountain Energy Company just announced an opportunity for schools to directly raise funds to help their gardens grow. Through their Referral Partnership Program, Green Mountain Energy Company will donate $25 to the participating school on behalf of every school supporter that chooses Green Mountain's Pollution Free™ Partnership electricity to power their home. To learn more, contact Daniela Brown, Account Executive, by email at or by phone at 212.710.2714.


Help gardens grow with your donation today!

Recycling Champions Application!


Attention NYC public schools: Apply to bring GrowNYC's Recycling Champions Program to your school for the 2012-2013 school year!

GrowNYC will provide your school with a dedicated coordinator to help launch a model, school-wide recycling program, by working with faculty, staff, students, and custodians. The program is free and open to K-12 public schools, in all five boroughs. Download the application here, the application deadline is June 15!


June School Gardening Tips from Andrew at GreenThumb 

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CULTIVATION. Consistent cultivation of the soil can prevent pest and disease trouble. Extreme care, however, should be exercised so as not to injure plant roots.

SEEDS. This month is the proper deadline for sowing summer-flowering plants: Sunflower, Marigold, Cosmos, Zinnia, Aster, Calendula, Snapdragon, Salvia, Verbena, Ageratum, etc.

SEEDLINGS. Should be thinned and staked when very small and before the roots interlock. Remember that good air circulation helps prevent fungus and disease. Stake Dahlias to one stalk: stake Peonies. Fertilize when first buds appear. Cloches may be necessary as protection against strong winds.

DISBUDDING & DEADHEADING. Removal of annual flower blossoms as they fade, or on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, can help continue blooms and spur flower production.

MULCHING. Practice good mulching techniques: mulching with leaves and/or grass clippings. Wood-chips may also be used to keep tree and shrub pits free of weeds as well as keeping these areas attractive.

WEEDING. This is the time of the year when attention must go to keeping the weeds at bay. Ignoring weeds when they are small means a much bigger job later on. Try to get an expert to visit your garden to identify the most obnoxious weeds. Tagging them or digging samples up and potting certain weeds will give you a living reference library for the rest of the summer.

RECORD! Make notes in your garden observation notebook.


For more June Gardening Tips visit our complete Grow to Learn Monthly Gardening Calendar. Have a gardening question? Ask an Expert Gardener here! 


     June Workshops and Events 

For a full list of events, please visit our  Grow to Learn Events Calendar.  If you have an upcoming event you'd like us to include, please let us know at


Companion Planting Herb Garden

Saturday, June  9, 11am - 12:30pm

Host Organization: GreenThumb
Come learn how the practice of growing plants together that have complementary requirements and do not compete for light, water, or other resources can result in better growth of each plant. Learn which herbs make good companions and which can attract beneficial pollinators, deter pests, and more.

Location: Edith Community Garden, 836 Elton Ave, Bronx

Cost: Free.

Additional Info: Registered GreenThumb community gardens will be able to take home herbs while supplies last.

Contact: Andrew Barrett at or (212) 788-8073


Second Annual Hunts' Point American Indian Native Festival

Saturday, June 16, 12pm-4pm

Host Organization: GreenThumb

Come join us for Native American cultural dance, music and food!

Location: Barretto Point Park, Bronx
Cost: Free

Contact: 646-232-7132 or 


Host Organization: GreenThumb 

In celebration of Father's Day, the Clayton Williams Community Garden will provide refreshments and live music. Bring the family!There will be a photographer in the garden to provide opportunities for family photos. Donations to the Garden are appreciated.

Location: Clayton Williams Memorial Garden, 303 W. 126th Street, Manhattan 

Cost: Free



El Flamboyan Garden Father's Day Celebration

Sunday, June 17, 2pm-8pm

Host Organization: GreenThumb

Come Celebrate Fathers Day in The Bronx with food, non-alcoholic beverages, and live DJ music.

We appreciate anything you would like to donate to make this event a success: a side dish, condiments, paper plates, cups, forks, napkins, and cash donations are all welcome.

Location: El Flamboyan Community Garden (in El Flamboyan Garden), Bronx 

Cost: Free

Contact: (646) 241-9598 or (347) 867-0292 or


Street Tree Adoption and Care

Monday, June 18, 5:30 pm-7:30 pm

Host Organization: GreenThumb

This workshop will cover all the basics including how to improve soil, watering tips, safe tree guard design, planting a street tree bed garden, and adopting a street tree! Those who adopt a tree will receive a hand tool set. Grow to Learn registered school gardens ONLY will be able to request soil, compost, and lumber for Fall delivery.

Location: Columbia Secondary School, 425 West 123rd St., New York, NY 10027

Cost: Free

Contact: Andrew Barrett at or (212) 788-8073


Street Tree Adoption and Care

Wednesday, June 20, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Host Organization: GreenThumb 

This workshop will cover all the basics including how to improve soil, watering tips, safe tree guard design, planting a street tree bed garden, and adopting a street tree!  Those who adopt a tree(s) will receive a hand tool set. Grow to Learn registered school gardens ONLY will be able to request soil, compost, and lumber for Fall delivery. 

P.S. 166, 33-09 35th Avenue, Queens, NY 11106

Cost: Free
Contact: Andrew Barrett, or 212.788.8073


Community Potluck and Musical Celebration

Saturday, June 30, 2pm-6pm

Host Organization: GreenThumb

Taste a variety of cultural dishes while enjoying the Paul Johnson Steel Band quartet. Rain Date: Sunday, July 1.

Location: Hope Garden, 195 East 2nd St

Cost: $5 Donation

Contact: (646) 353-2160 or

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