Brooklyn Botanic Garden Graduates 15 “BUG” Students
Brooklyn Urban Gardener volunteers signify expansion of BBG’s community outreach
Release Date: January 12, 2010Brooklyn, NY—For 18 years, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s (BBG) community environmental horticulture program—GreenBridge—has collaborated with denizens of Brooklyn to promote urban greening through education, conservation, and creative partnerships. Working with block associations, community gardens, and other service groups, GreenBridge is building a vibrant network of people, places, and projects dedicated to making Brooklyn a greener place.
As Brooklynites’ desire for a greener, more livable urban environment has increased, the demand for support has threatened to exceed GreenBridge’s capacities. “Brooklyn Urban Gardner, a train-the-trainer program for community volunteers, was formed in response to the community’s demand for more technical assistance, more help in community organizing, and more horticultural resources,” says Robin Simmen, director of GreenBridge. An intensive course of interconnected urban horticulture workshops, Brooklyn Urban Gardener (BUG) is designed to arm a new generation of environmental stewards with the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully and independently manage urban horticulture programs.
The inaugural BUG class of 15 diverse and passionate students was selected from a competitive applicant pool in spring 2010. The class met weekly last fall at BBG for training in improving soil conditions, ameliorating rainwater runoff, gardening in microclimates, and other topics important to urban gardeners. Additionally, the course’s unique approach included hands-on training in community outreach and conflict resolution, decidedly non-horticultural issues that are nevertheless essential for successful urban community gardening. As Phil Silva, manager of GreenBridge, expressed, “Urban gardening is first about people, and then about plants.”
Program participants represented the diversity of Brooklyn itself, hailing from 14 different neighborhoods and a variety of ethnic and professional backgrounds. Linda Fletcher of Bedford-Stuyvesant began her training in community horticulture in Belize in 2000 and has been at the forefront of the community gardening movement in her neighborhood. Erik Rosenberg, of Sheepshead Bay, brought to the program a lifetime of experience working on conflict resolution with Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab-Israeli youth before becoming interested in community horticulture.
Fletcher, Rosenberg, and their BUG classmates worked in teams of five on three projects, including a streetscaping program, in collaboration with the Washington Avenue/Prospect Heights Merchants Association; a school garden at PS 217 on Newkirk and Coney Island avenues; and a nascent community garden on Flatbush Avenue at the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church. They will present progress reports on the projects at BBG on January 13 in order to receive their final certificates. The graduates will apply their new skills to a variety of projects in the future, helping BBG leverage its resources. “If the first class of BUG graduates is any indication,” says Robin Simmen, “we’ve empowered a new generation of community-minded gardeners to carry the message far beyond BBG’s 52-acre campus.”
Applications for the next class of BUG students will be available in Spring 2011 with a June 1 deadline. Leadership support for BUG is provided by Brooklyn Community Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Deutsche Bank. All training and resources manuals are provided free to participants.”
For more information on BUG, please visit bbg.org/greenbridge/bug.
Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is an independent nonprofit institution committed to education, research, and the display of horticulture. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn, the Garden is home to over 12,000 kinds of plants and hosts more than 725,000 visitors annually. Learn more at bbg.org.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Garden is closed on Mondays except public holidays. The Garden is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (65 and older) and students with ID. Children under 12, all school groups, and Garden members are admitted free at all times. From November 9 to March 11, the Garden is free to the public on weekdays and until noon on Saturdays. For directions, please visit bbg.org/visit/directions.
Learn what’s happening at Brooklyn Botanic Garden at bbg.org/visit/calendar, read the Garden’s blog at bbg.org/news, and see photos of current highlights at bbg.org/bloom.