Brooklyn Botanic Garden
BBG staff and their families with signs at the Global Climate Strike.
BBG staff and families at the Global Climate Strike last fall. Photo by Ronnit Bendavid-Val.
BBG Summer at Home
Dear Garden Friends, 

Today we are going to explore the topic of sustainability. One great way to be a friend to the earth is to become a gardener and put lots of green plants in the ground. Plants help to clean the air, provide food and habitat for us and our animal friends, and keep us happy and healthy. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a wonderful book about everyone doing their part to make the city greener and healthier for all. 

While all of us aren’t able to garden right now, there are many other ways to be kind to the earth and live green lives. We can be aware of our waste and consumption, reuse or upcycle materials, and be thoughtful with our food and clothing purchases. The activities below will guide you through fun projects that help us accomplish some of these tasks!

But before we get into our activities, we have big news! The Garden will reopen on August 7 with four special Welcome Weeks featuring free admission. BBG members are invited back to the Garden for an exclusive Member Appreciation Week from July 31 to August 6. Advance timed tickets are required to enter. Tickets will be available to reserve beginning today, Monday, July 27. BBG is excited to welcome you back! 
Let’s Cook: No-Waste Broccoli Chips
(All ages with adult supervision, 25 minutes)
Cutting the stalk off broccoli with a knife.
Broccoli stalk being peeled with a vegetable peeler.
Cutting the broccoli stalk into thin coins.
Finished roasted broccoli chips in a bowl.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
Just like you upcycle other items around your home, the extra veggie pieces you usually throw away can be made into delicious snacks. You can use broccoli stalks to make a delicious snack or side dish. 

2 cups peeled and sliced broccoli stalks (6–7 stalks)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional add-on: 3–4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Peel the tough outer layer from the broccoli stalks with a vegetable peeler. After peeling, thinly chop the stalks to create chips that are about 1/8-inch thick. In a medium bowl (or directly on the parchment-lined baking sheet), toss broccoli stalks with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread broccoli slices out evenly on the baking sheet, making sure the slices are evenly spaced. Bake for 10 minutes, until the broccoli has developed some roasted brown spots. Remove broccoli from oven, stir, and flip, and then spread the broccoli back out on the baking sheet. Bake 2 minutes more if needed.

Optional add-on: Evenly top the broccoli with some parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake for about 1 additional minute, just until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Let’s Craft: Recycling Bin Art Challenge
(Ages 4–10, 45–60 minutes
Recycling bin with various cardboard boxes.
Art made with recycled materials (bird and flowers).
Art made with recycled materials (collage tree).
Painted cardboard cat made with recycled cardboard.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
Raid your recycling bin. Try doing a family art challenge to see who can come up with the most unique use of the materials. 

Materials: Recycled cardboard, cans, bottle tops, paper scraps, glue, paint, markers, scissors

Directions: Flatten some of your recycling boxes. Cut a few pieces of simple cardboard for your base. Think about other items you can use, like old greeting cards, colored envelopes, magazines, or catalogs. Children can use the various pieces of recycled paper to cut all different shapes. Glue the shapes to make collages or sculptures. 

Continuation: Have a recycled art exhibit in your home! Hang up your creations, make a label with the name, materials used, and description of the piece and have a family “gallery walk” to observe the art. Pretend you’re an artist on display at the Brooklyn Museum or Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Let’s Reflect: My Eco Footprint
(Ages 10–13, 15 minutes) 
Graphic showing a footprint, houses, tree, car, and person riding bicycle.
Graphic by Ellen McCarthy.
An ecological footprint is a measure of how much of the environment and natural resources are necessary to support our lifestyle. This link leads to a tool developed by the Global Footprint Network that calculates how many planets we would need if everyone lived like you. How much do your choices and actions affect the environment, and if everyone behaved the same way, would the earth be able to sustain us?  

Take the quiz and see if there are some steps you could take to reduce the size of your ecological footprint! 
We are all a part of a global community and need to work actively toward protecting the earth that sustains us! Take some time to think about other projects or choices you and your family could make to be green citizens and advocate for the planet. 

Until next time!

—BBG’s Children’s Education Team
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