Sunset yoga. Storytelling. And a great excuse to buy some extra treats on your next grocery run.

There is a LOT of great stuff happening at Battery Urban Farm over the next couple of weeks — don’t miss out! Here’s what’s new:

Battery Urban Farm Saturday: June 15

It’s that time again: monthly Saturdays at the farm! In addition to our regular volunteer hours and farmstand, this month we are thrilled to welcome Rebecca Pryor of The Moth and StoryCorps for Food Memories: The Go-To Steps for Crafting Your Story. Also on Saturday: the farm will host two dance performances of last days / first field from Jill Sigman / thinkdance!


Here’s the full day schedule:

                • Volunteer hours: 10am-1pm
                • Farmstand: noon-4pm
                • Dance performances: noon, 2:30pm
                • Workshop: 1pm

Click here to view the flyer, or RSVP to the Facebook event.


YogaFarmFundraiser_InviteFarm Fundraiser: Sunset Yoga @ Battery Urban Farm

Join us on Wednesday, July 24th (previously June 19) from 5-7pm for an evening of yoga, farm-to-fork bites, and a garden happy hour!

This event features a 45-minute yoga lesson with Joulebody founder and certified yoga instructor/personal trainer Yvette Rose, followed by a tasting of juices and hors d’oeuvres (sourced from the farm) and a glass of local wine or beer at Table Green, overlooking the harbor.

Click here to view the invitation or email Lauren Kaplan at to purchase tickets. Space is limited.




Whole Foods Market 5% Day: June 27

Shop at Whole Foods on June 27 and you can support student farmers — simply by picking up your weekly groceries!

That’s right: On Thursday June 27, Whole Foods Market will donate 5% of all sales from all seven of their Manhattan stores to The Battery Conservancy — this is a huge deal, and a big honor.

So mark your calendars for June 27th and head over to the Whole Foods Market nearest you to get your 4th of July shopping done early! Click here for more information.

Spruce Street students studying the difference between annuals and perennials in the "Life of a Tree" lesson.

Spruce Street students studying the difference between annuals and perennials in the “Life of a Tree” lesson.

The following is a Farm Education update from our Farm Educator, Anna Ellis.

Last week on the farm was filled with so much excitement for all of our classes as we continue getting ready for summer planting! Cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are all on the summer menu.

In addition to all of the delicious fruiting plants we planted, our 1st grade student farmers have been exploring two important resources for all of our farm crops: nutrients and water.

Through a study of the water cycle, students are learning the importance of replenishing what nutrients our plants remove from the soil and how the water cycle is happening on the farm every day — which has been very apparent with all the rain we had last week! The rain has also pushed some of our classes indoors, which gave me a chance to bring the farm to a few classrooms.

Here are some of the lessons we learned on that rainy day:

Water cycleOn Thursday I brought some farm fresh snacks and the water cycle lesson to PS 276 Battery Park City School. Before eating Haikurei turnips that the students had planted on the first farm class of the spring, we made mini 3D water cycles for the students to take home. By the end of the class students were using words like condensation and precipitation like pros!

Later in the day, I brought the same water cycle lesson to PS 397 Spruce Street, whose class had been similarly rained out. There, one student thanked me for teaching them about the water cycle because it was “so much fun.” As an educator, it’s always exciting to hear students who enjoy learning new things and remember all that new information because they had fun doing it!

I brought chive blossoms for the class to taste and when I told them chives grow back every year, one student told me that means its a perennial. (Students had learned the difference between annuals and perennials in a lesson they did 3 weeks ago!)

Our teachers have also been hard at work to bring the farm back to school. One class is keeping a Battery Urban Farm journal, where they practice different writing styles by reflecting on what they’ve done at the farm. Students have written procedural pieces (how to plant a seed), drawn diagrams (the plant life cycle) and even recorded their wonderings (“does lettuce have seeds, and if it does where do they come from?”). This fabulous teacher told us that “we really appreciate all the work that you do on the farm and for allowing us to be a part of it.”

And the teachers aren’t the only ones: this week a student from her class told me “Tuesdays are my favorite day because I get to be an urban farmer.”

As an educator, it’s so rewarding to see both teachers and students recognize and articulate the importance and value in what we do here at Battery Urban Farm. It’s also incredibly rewarding to see students exploring, asking questions and feeling ownership of their work on the farm. These are the kinds of connections students are making that are difficult to capture in numbers, but so easy and exciting to see in the course of classes on the farm. Trimming

On a personal note, I appreciate all the work this teacher has done for her students, and I want to ensure we can continue working with the many teachers like her that see the value in integrating farm education into daily lessons within the classroom.

If you do too, help keep our programs running: shop at Whole Foods on Thursday June 27! Why? Because on June 27, 5% of net sales from all 7 Manhattan stores will be donated to The Battery Conservancy. You can support our work with students like these (and the 1,900 others we will work with this year) simply by shopping for your weekly groceries.

What’s Growing On is a place for our Battery Urban Farm teachers, parents, friends — and you! — to tell us all the cool stuff you’re doing to get growing in your school, home, neighborhood — wherever. It’s a chance for us all to share great ideas; to get inspired by each other; a chance for everyone to tell their story. What’s yours? 

What’s Growing On at PS 150

Here in Tribeca at PS 150, healthy eating and working with plants has become a focus for parents, students and teachers. The Kindergarten students have been learning about plants as a way to improve the community. The students have decided that they would like to use their knowledge of plants and their desire to make New York City more beautiful by giving each class in the school a plant in a decorated pot.

Students from PS 150 drawing basil seedlings.

Students from PS 150 drawing basil seedlings.

As the first step in this community greening project, Jennifer Aaron’s Kindergarteners went on a field trip to the New York Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies at the Manhattan School for Children [PS333]. Here, students observed small basil plants, made a salad using mature basil leaves, and then planted basil seeds to bring back to school. The Kindergarten students are currently tending their basil seedlings, which they will soon replant into decoupaged pots before donating them to other classes.

Students examining the aquaponics system on a visit to Sunworks school PS 333.

Students examining the aquaponics system on a visit to Sunworks school PS 333.

The Pre-Kindergarten students at PS 150 are also interested in helping the community. They have been busy planting an outdoor garden near the school. The students have been enjoying caring for the flowers, especially the marigolds!

Even the youngest (Pre-K) students at PS 150 are enthusiastic about garden projects!

Even the youngest (Pre-K) students at PS 150 are enthusiastic about garden projects!

An integral component of the new focus on plants and health at PS 150 has come from the newly formed Wellness Health and Movement (WHAM) Committee, whose mission is to inspire kids to make healthy food and fitness choices.

The Wellness Committee has sponsored family events such as a “Family Fitness Day” where students and parents danced, competed in relay races, and participated in collaborative games. WHAM also invited families to workout over 3 evenings at Exerblast, a video game inspired kids’ gym.

WHAM students take a break on the green grass.

WHAM students take a break on the green grass.

In addition to encouraging physical activity (and making it fun!), WHAM is especially proud to promote healthy eating for kids and families. Once a month WHAM offers students two new vegetables to taste and vote on. WHAM also sponsored three nights of Veggiecation cooking classes for kids, at which students made a rice noodle dish that included basil, mint, and carrots. Families learned about the health benefits of each vegetable, and everyone enjoyed working together.


Shakira Provasoli

Shakira Provasoli


Shakira Provasoli is an environmental educator, as well as a proud PS 150 parent. She aspires to bring her own love of nature to all areas of her students’ and children’s lives. She and a fellow PS 150 parent, Susan Korenberg, received a generous Wellness Council grant from the DOE that enabled the WHAM Committee to sponsor healthy eating and fitness events for students and families.

Ahhhh, beautiful sunny skies, 70 degrees of sunshine and a refreshing waterfront breeze; you couldn’t ask for more comfortable weather at the Battery Urban Farm. These conditions made it an ideal setting for some quality farm education sessions with our young farmers at the Spruce Street School.

Last week, our lesson plans focused on some basic fundamentals of farming: (1) to be able to recognize, understand, and observe different types of annual and perennial plants in our environment in the “Life of a Tree” lesson; and (2) to grasp how composting can bring a sustainable balance to the farm. Here’s what students are learning now:

The Life of a Tree
Students measure the circumference of a tree.

Students measure the circumference of a tree.

Here at Battery Urban Farm, students get to plant a wide variety of fruits, herbs and vegetables. Some of our annual plants include tomatoes, lettuce and sugar snap peas. While these plants are all different heights and shapes, one thing they all have in common is that they are annuals: they complete their life cycle within one year and need to be replanted the following growing season. Some of the other crops, like rosemary, thyme and mint, are perennials. These are plants that come back year after year.

In order to highlight the difference between annuals and perennials, we organized some fun activities for the kids. It started with having them plant two rows of Kentucky wonder beans. These are a specific variety of green beans that can be found at Battery Urban Farm annually. They typically grow as bush beans, only about two feet in height. Kentucky wonder beans reach maturity and produce all of their fruit in about 60 days. This is a relatively short amount of time and allows our gardeners to replant several times a year. (We recommend cooking these beans in a casserole, stir-fried with other veggies, or even in a delicious green bean soup!)

To better understand perennial plants, the students went hands-on with the trees in the Woodland surrounding Battery Urban Farm. Students measured the circumference of various trees around the farm using a simple measuring tape, learning that the girth (or waist measurement) of a tree can indicate how old it is. Every inch represents approximately one year. For example, a tree with a 16 inch circumference should be about 16 years old. This measurement doesn’t work for every tree. Eucalyptuses and North American redwoods tend to grow taller and faster than most other trees. Some trees grow taller slower such as limes, horse chestnuts, and yews. Palm trees grow taller without increasing in circumference. How old are the trees around your home?

Decomposition: Breaking Down our Organic Waste
An intense relay race to place cards in either compost or trash bins.

An intense relay race to place cards in either compost or trash bins.

Did you know New York City creates about 12,000 tons of waste per day – and that of that, approximately 270,000 lbs of that is food waste?? That’s a lot of nutrient-rich organic material getting tied up in our landfills instead of feeding our soil.

Many of us living in major cities like NYC aren’t fully aware of the importance of proper waste removal: we throw so many different substances together as “trash” (meaning only that we don’t have a use for them anymore) and don’t think about where they go or what happens to them all once they leave our front door. This disconnect between us and our garbage can be really harmful to our environment. Wasted food that’s left to decay in landfills produces methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. It’s over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it enters the atmosphere. Thus, recycling our unused materials is extremely important in the fight to slow down climate change.

The best way to bring sustainable balance is through a process called composting. When we compost, we turn our leftover organic materials into reusable soil that gets placed back into the earth for planting. Battery Urban Farm has three compost bins on location to help us recycle our waste. We utilize a specific method of Thermophilic composting, combining waste eating bacteria, heat, and hungry worms to recreate nutrient rich soil for the farm. As part of this lesson, students learn vocabulary words including “decompose”, “compostable”, “organic material” and “vermicompost” , and get hands-on with the compost system and worm bin.

Students compare their ingredients for a compost stew.

Students compare their ingredients for a compost stew.

The Take-Away

These methods (along with many others) will ultimately help our students (and all of us!) learn to reduce our impact on the planet. It’s our responsibility to harness technology in a way that won’t compromise our ability to create healthy food and provide clean drinkable water. Composting is just one necessary step in the development of a more sustainable environment.

Interested in composting at home? While the three-bin thermophilic composting system is great for our space here at the farm, those of us who live in apartment buildings with limited space may need something smaller and more apartment-appropriate. Indoor worm bins are very practical, space efficient and odor-free! Another great option is simply collecting your food scraps in a bag within your freezer and then dropping it off at a compost site. You can find drop-off bins at most green markets around the city, or even at a local community garden. Check GrowNYC for more compost information.

(Also, check out the Outdoor Composting workshop at the farm this Saturday May 18, led by the NYC Compost Project in Manhattan hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center!)

We at Battery Urban Farm take great pride in helping to plant the seeds of future sustainability leaders. It’s genuinely fun and engaging for both the students and our educators on staff. We look forward to growing along with students from Spruce Street and all of our other schools!


Students observe the woodland areas around the farm.

Students observe the woodland areas around the farm.

Be a part of our farm family by visiting on Battery Urban Farm Saturdays. We have fun activities and workshops for the whole family!

What’s Growing On is a place for our Battery Urban Farm teachers, parents, friends — and you! — to tell us all the cool stuff you’re doing to get growing in your school, home, neighborhood — wherever. It’s a chance for us all to share great ideas; to get inspired by each other; a chance for everyone to tell their story. What’s yours? 

What’s Growing On at PS/IS 276

At PS/IS 276 Battery Park City School we are growing leaders of sustainability.  Through school wide programming in gardening, recycling, composting, and tree care, we provide our students with authentic experiences in environmental leadership and responsibility.  We try to weave environmental themes into the curriculum as often as possible in order to connect traditional learning with participation in civic responsibilities.

Growing Food
urban farm trellis pic

Middle school Environmental Club members build a trellis for peas at Battery Urban Farm

From EarthBox planting in kindergarten and second grade to first grade visits to Battery Urban Farm to helping develop our new rooftop garden, our students participate in a lot of hands on gardening activities. Taking care of plants becomes a community building activity as well as a lesson in responsibility.  Second grader, G.G., learned that “plants don’t just grow. You need to take care of them by watering them and putting them outside to get special light.”

Students have the opportunity to work with and observe plants throughout their various life stages.  Middle school Environmental Club students maintain a plot at Battery Urban Farm throughout the fall and spring growing seasons.  They are a small, yet dedicated and adventurous group of urban farmers, who will eat anything directly out of the plot.  I have learned how important this experience is for them from our shared participation in the farm.  It opens up their eyes and their palates to new foods.  Charlie, a seventh grader, says that the Urban Farm helped him to “try a lot of new plants like beets—a new favorite. You can eat different parts of the plant, but I prefer the beet leaves over the roots.”

As kids growing up in the city, they rarely get to see where their food comes from.  Now, they are able to make connections between the food choices they make on a daily basis and the plants that they care for at the Urban Farm.  Seventh grader, Valerie summed up her gardening experience by saying, “we go to the supermarket and see all the things that come from the farm, but it’s much better when you plant it by yourself.  It’s more fun, and you get to experience the whole journey.”

With the help of dedicated parents and teachers, we have been working hard in the last two years to develop our roof garden space.  It is small, but we pack in a lot of kid-friendly veggies, herbs, and flowers.  Children have been an integral part in growing our roof garden.  They create art to number the beds, decide what to plant, sow seeds, control pests, harvest and enjoy.  We are currently growing a variety of edible plants including lettuces, turnips, beets, chard, onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes—just to name a few.

The 1st and 2nd grade Environmental Club makes signs to teach others about recycling.

The 1st and 2nd grade Environmental Club makes signs to teach others about recycling.

Growing Respect for Resources

From our school’s beginnings, we have educated students about the importance of resource conservation and recycling efforts.  Our school recycles in the classrooms, offices, and cafeteria.  Students help by labeling recycling bins and garbage cans, creating posters, making school-wide announcements, and educating each other about recycling.  We have had support this semester from GrowNYC Recycling Champions.  They are helping us to make sure everyone in our school understands the hows and whys of recycling in New York City.  Some of our most dedicated Environmental Club students choose to spend their recess time helping others in the cafeteria as Recycling Monitors.  They stand by the bins at clean up time and remind students how to separate their waste.  “Sometimes people place stuff in wrong places.  If you could be better at recycling, the Earth can last longer.  Our resources would get replenished,” says Darious, seventh grade.

Not only are students learning to recycle properly, they are also beginning to understand how they can use their knowledge and experiences to positively change other people’s actions.  One of our fourth grade recycling monitors, Hanson, talked about how he can make changes“If people don’t protect the environment now it means they don’t care about the future—garbage, garbage, garbage, landfills, landfills, landfills, garbage trucks, garbage trucks, garbage trucks—the future would not be what people imagined. We could make a difference now; we could change basically our future and the world. We can make a difference.”

Growing Worms

We have been growing our compost program for four years.  Third grade classes and the science room have vermicompost (worm) bins.  Students are responsible for collecting food scraps like apple cores, strawberry tops, and banana peels at lunchtime and “feeding” them to the worms.  They observe the decomposition process then harvest their bin when it gets full.  Exploring the worm bin is a favorite activity.  There are so many things to discover—baby worms, egg sacks, left over bits of food, seeds, mites, and, of course, slimy and wiggly worms.

Last fall, we composted all the raised beds in our roof garden by layering food scraps (green materials) with dead leaves, straw, and newspaper (brown materials).  It’s called lasagna composting because you place the organic materials in layers.  We have recently started an outdoor compost tumbler in our garden space, and a group of second graders has been adding to it each day from their lunch scraps.  We can’t wait to use our outdoor compost in the garden, as well!

Growing Trees
Students work together to plant flowers in the street tree beds outside PS/IS 276

Students work together to plant flowers in the street tree beds outside PS/IS 276

Last year, our school adopted the trees in front of our building through Million Trees NYC.  We are dedicated to taking care of our street trees and educating the community about how important these trees are to our neighborhood.  This spring, students of various ages laid compost and topsoil in the tree beds then planted flowers.  Kindergarten students made signs to discourage people from littering, climbing on the trees, stepping in the tree beds, and letting their dogs pee on them.  The students who participated learned about how to care for trees and why they are such an important resource, even those ones that are stuck in the middle of the sidewalk.

When asked what their favorite thing about Environmental Club is, the resounding response was “going outside!”  Our students love to be outside, enjoying, and relaxing in nature.  If they take anything from these lessons on sustainability, I hope that it is a love and respect for our natural environment that will guide them throughout their lives.

One day, these students will be the ones making important political, economic, and social decisions that will affect the world.  I hope that when they do, they’ll think back to their early days as urban farmers, recycling monitors, composters, and tree stewards to help them grow the next generation of sustainable leaders.


Juliana Germak BioJuliana Germak teaches English as a Second Language and Environmental Education at PS/IS 276. She has been working to educate New York City students for a sustainable future for the past seven years.  She loves good food, especially when it’s local.  She travels all over the world searching for innovative environmental practices, culinary adventures, and the beauty of the natural world.

Chair_BANNER_smallerDownload full press release here


Designers from Nine Countries Across the Americas are Chosen

and The Battery Conservancy invites the public to comment

New York, NY — The Battery Conservancy and NYC Parks announce today the TOP 50 Designs of The Battery Conservancy Americas “Draw Up A Chair” Design Competition with the launch of its Online Gallery at The winning design will be fabricated for the public’s use in The Battery, New York City’s birthplace and original waterfront park.

The Top 50 come from 9 countries in the Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and the United States. 30% are students and 70% are professional designers.

The TOP 50 were selected by a world-renowned jury from an impressive 679 submissions.

“It is wonderful that more than 1,500 talented designers from 15 countries in North, Central and South America submitted designs for this unique international competition,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White. “We are proud to share the designs with the public to receive feedback since the chair is for all New Yorkers and visitors to use when they come to Battery Park. Special thanks to the team at The Battery Conservancy for moving this innovative project forward.”

“The Battery Conservancy created the competition to reinforce it our mission to foster design excellence and innovation in the public domain,” said Warrie Price, Founder and President of The Battery Conservancy.

The Battery Conservancy now invites the public to participate by commenting online and on-site in the park. The Online Design Gallery can be accessed at, where the public can comment on the TOP 50 designs and “LIKE” their favorites.

From May through October the public can view the TOP 50 designs on exhibition banners located near the Battery Green. The Battery receives over 6 million visitors a year with the highest volume during these months. Visitors to the park can express their opinions by texting (424) CHAIR-55.

The Battery Conservancy’s goal for the competition is to promote innovative industrial design use in public parks and to encourage a new design standard for outdoor seating. The Battery is committed to promoting the work of emerging and established designers through public interaction. The Battery Conservancy was impressed by quality of the 679 submissions and its online gallery has an option for the public to view ALL 679 designs.

In November 2013, the Finalists will be announced and full-scale prototypes of their designs will be developed by The Battery Conservancy. The winning design will be awarded US$10,000 cash prize, and the design will be fabricated for use on the Battery Green, now in construction.

The distinguished jurors are Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art; Allison Arieff, design writer, The New York Times, Editor, The Urbanist; Fernando Campana and Humberto Campana, designers, Sao Paulo; Rob Forbes, Founder of Design Within Reach and CEO of Public Bikes; Mario Schjetnan, Co-Founder & Director of Mario Schjetnan/Grupo de Diseño Urbano, Mexico City.

Media partners for The Americas Design Competition include ARC Design, Arch Daily, Architect’s Newspaper, Core 77, Metropolis Magazine, Modern Magazine, Plataforma Arquitectura, Sotheby’s and Surface Magazine.

About The Battery Conservancy

The Battery Conservancy was created in 1994 as a 501(c)(3) not–for–profit educational corporation to rebuild and revitalize The Battery, the 25-acre waterfront public park at the southern tip of Manhattan, and its major landmark, Castle Clinton National Monument. The Battery remains one of the oldest public open spaces in continuous use in New York City.

The Battery Conservancy, with its partners at the city, state and federal levels, has raised $122M to revitalize the park. Expansive lawns, overarching shade trees, vast perennial gardens, waterfront promenades with sweeping harbor views will soon be joined by the new Battery Bikeway connecting the East and West Sides of Manhattan; the much-anticipated SeaGlass carousel; and a remarkable new expanded Battery Playspace designed by Frank Gehry.

About NYC Parks

NYC Parks is the steward of more than 29,000 acres of land including 1,700 parks, 14 miles of beaches, 500 community gardens, and 2,500 Greenstreets.  NYC Parks manages the City’s athletic fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, recreation centers, public pools, nature centers, golf courses, monuments, and historic house museums, and cares for 2 million trees inside the parks and another 600,000 street trees.  NYC Parks also provides numerous free public programs and services in coordination with New York City’s local elected officials, community members, and non-profit partners.

Thanks to everyone who came out for EARTH FEST! This family-friendly free event offered activities, crafts, displays and demonstrations to celebrate and promote food, farming, sustainability and greener communities in NYC.

Offerings included planting activities and pea shoot tastings with farm educators and parents from PS3 Charrette Elementary and PS 150 Tribeca Learning Center WHAM and educational games such as “Food Miles” Corn Hole with ESNY, Recycling Games with GrowNYC, “What’s Your Water Footprint” with Millennium HS, and more.

Attendees got to “Meet the Farmers” from Brooklyn Grange’s City Growers; Edible Schoolyard NYC; Queens County Farm Museum; Randall’s Island Learning Garden; and Roberta’s garden, and all enjoyed a “Roof to Table” exhibit with photographer Rob Stephenson, live music from the Josie O’s and Five Mile String Band, and Greenmarket-sourced refreshments from The Greene Grape. The unveiling of our new demonstration garden featured a variety of ways for attendees to bring gardening back to their homes or community — through Woolly Pockets, sub-irrigated planters, windowsill growing and more.

With all of these activities, we hope to have encouraged our EARTH FEST visitors to feel empowered to create more green space in their own neighborhoods and to reduce waste through reuse, recycling, and conscientious consumption — not just on Earth Day, but every day.

Thanks for joining us and we hope to see you in October for Harvest Festival!

What’s Growing On is a place for our Battery Urban Farm teachers, parents, friends — and you! — to tell us all the cool stuff you’re doing to get growing in your school, home, neighborhood — wherever. It’s a chance for us all to share great ideas; to get inspired by each other; a chance for everyone to tell their story. What’s yours? 

What’s Growing On at PS 3

PS3 Ellie Lieberman w pea seeds

Ellie Lieberman with pea seeds

All I can say is, THANK GOODNESS for new projects to keep us all busy.  To help break the dampening effects of Hurricane Sandy as well as the cold weather, we’ve had some new projects to work on brought to us by the adventurous and talented teachers and parents of PS3 in Greenwich Village.  Here’s what’s been growing on:


Parent Susan Helden brought just the right project to our Kindergarten/First grade classes studying trees.  If you peek in some classrooms you’ll see what the students refer to as “bleeding logs” – oak logs covered in dripping, red wax.  I had the pleasure of meeting with Susan in the country to help harvest logs from a felled oak tree. Back in the classroom, using a mallet, students pounded wooden pegs inoculated with Shiitake or Lion’s Mane spores into the pre-drilled and soaked logs.  The pegs were then sealed with red food-grade wax.  With time, and if the logs are kept sufficiently moist, in the coming weeks students will observe mushrooms pushing out of the logs.  I rate this project very high as an instant crowd-pleaser.  What six-year-old doesn’t appreciate wielding a mallet?


This winter and into spring, students have been growing pea and sunflower shoots for the cafeteria. They’re easy to grow since they don’t require tons of of light, and can be harvested within 7 – 14 days.   Pea shoots also provide an excellent botanical study and are highly nutritious, with seven times more vitamin C than blueberries and eight times more folic acid than bean sprouts. It’s so satisfying to see students nibble on them as soon as they are high enough to eat.


PS3 pea shoots

Pea shoots growing at PS3



Worms are rock stars here. Our worms (Eisenia fetida, aka red worms) are prolific and flourishing, thanks to parents Naima Freitas and Nancy Fey, and they keep our students plenty busy.  In the after school program I teach called “Hands in the Dirt”, we are building creative housing for our worms, including a wigwam and a cottage.  These structures will provide a dark place for the worms to live and work in, and yes, a fun project for first through fourth graders, too.


Susan and Dimple, two of our teachers, are raising monarch butterflies, so we will be growing milkweed for them in the yard.  We must supply the exclusive food that monarch larvae enjoy!

PS3 student drawing of a pea shoot

PS3 student drawing of a pea shoot


Cristina Latici, our Garden Committee chair, organized the starting of seeds for our woolly pocket vertical garden located in PS3’s rooftop play yard.  This year we are growing new varieties in the woolly pockets, including Mexican gherkin cucumbers (they look like miniature watermelons), Italian dandelion, and mache.  For our classes studying Native American history, we will be growing the three sisters both in our woolly pockets and at Battery Urban Farm.

Growing Seeds

This wonderful project is brought to us by Anna Rice Yaffee of our Green Committee.  Working with the Hudson Valley Seed Library, we will be growing purple podded peas and will be saving our seeds to contribute to their seed bank.

In addition to all of these projects taking place at the school, we are eager to get growing at Battery Urban Farm! This year we will be growing three types of kale, radish and beets, and lots more herbs – especially dill, which makes for the best chlorophyll study.  Our thyme, stevia, sage, garlic chive and lavender seedlings are coming along nicely and we have still many more to start, including indigo, shiso (perilla) and cape gooseberry.

A word that I’ve been reinforcing this year in our classes on the farm is viable.  For plants, that means the ability to live and grow.   When starting seeds with the kids, we talk about the four environmental factors needed for a seed to be viable:  moisture, temperature, oxygen and light.  Recently, as I was reviewing these factors with a class, I was gently reminded by first grader Aliana that I’d left one out.  She told me, “Denise, you forgot number five! LOVE!”  Other kids quickly chimed in as if I should have known better.  So I stand corrected, there are five environmental factors that plants need to be viable.   Humans need them, too.

It’s warm outside, spring is here and we’re very excited to get planting at The Battery.  See you soon and don’t forget LOVE! We won’t.

Denise PizziniDenise Pizzini is a parent, PTA member, and Science / Artist in Residence at PS 3 as well as an Battery Urban Farm founding farm educator. She is very involved the Garden to Cafe, Wellness, and Garden & Art committees at PS 3, and has been growing at The Battery since the farm’s beginnings in 2011.