Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Children’s Garden Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Centennial Programming and Celebrations March through October 2014

Release Date: February 21, 2014

Brooklyn, NY—In 2014, Brooklyn Botanic Garden will celebrate the 100th year of its pioneering Children’s Garden, the world’s first in a public botanic garden and a model for botanic gardens, schoolyards, and other institutions internationally.

Since its founding in 1914, the Children’s Garden has been the cornerstone of BBG’s educational programming—teaching gardening and plant science, instilling healthy eating habits, and fostering a lifelong connection to the environment. Nearly five generations of children have grown flowers, vegetables, and herbs and learned firsthand about the world of plants in the Children’s Garden. BBG will honor this legacy with Let’s Grow!, a series of programs and initiatives from March through October 2014 that will allow visitors of all ages to celebrate the Garden’s history and engage with its future.

“The experiences gained from participating in BBG’s Children’s Garden program are just as valuable and necessary for urban youth today in the early 21st century as they were in the beginning of the 20th century,” says Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Founded by the trailblazing educator Ellen Eddy Shaw, a committed advocate of hands-on learning, the Children’s Garden early on offered urban children a chance to plan, plant, tend, and harvest their own garden plots. For many children, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Children’s Garden provides the first, and sometimes only, hands-on learning experience in gardening and plant life. With a focus on greening the urban environment through education, sustainable practices, and stewardship, BBG encourages young people to be participants, not just spectators, in community horticulture and conservation.

Each year, children ranging in age from 2 to 17 years old work in the garden under the guidance of BBG instructors. Children’s Garden participants collectively grow over 800 pounds of produce each summer to take home to their families and share with the greater community. Younger children combine planting, tending, and harvesting with craft making and creative play. For older children, lessons in science and urban ecology supplement the gardening experience. Many teenagers who complete the program stay involved as junior instructors.

Today, BBG’s Children’s Garden and related educational programming reaches over 150,000 children each year. The Children’s Garden has been the inspiration and touchstone for BBG’s other educational initiatives for youth at the Garden and beyond, including the Garden Apprentice Program (GAP), a hands-on program for teens to deepen their knowledge of urban agriculture and the environment; Discovery programs for younger children; school group visits; Project Green Reach, an on-site and in-school science curriculum program; and Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment (BASE), a public high school that partners with BBG on hands-on research opportunities.

Let’s Grow! Celebration Highlights
To celebrate the Children’s Garden centennial, Brooklyn Botanic Garden will present Let’s Grow!, a series of classes, workshops, tours, exhibits, and other programs for visitors of all ages.

Historically open only to children participating in its season-long classes, the Children’s Garden will for the first time invite families, adults, and children not enrolled in the program to tour the historic Children’s Garden. Visitors will have an opportunity to check out the garden plots, get a behind-the-scenes view of the tool room and garden house, and work together to make a seasonal treat. These tours will take place from May through October.

To ensure that each child who visits in 2014 has a chance to fully experience the Garden’s educational activities, BBG will offer a greatly expanded weekday and weekend program of free Discovery Workshops and Nature Adventure Walks. From April through October, BBG’s Children’s Education staff will lead drop-in interactive workshops and tours for families following seasonal themes and special projects, including musical instrument making, kitchen botany lessons, and potting plants. BBG’s Kids’ Discovery Guide for the Garden’s youngest visitors is available year-round.

On Saturday, May 10, Children’s Garden participants and their families will celebrate spring planting with Parade Day, a lively procession through BBG to the Children’s Garden. A day of festivities for families and visitors of all ages will take place on Saturday, June 7, featuring live musical performances by children’s groups on Cherry Esplanade.

As part of the centennial celebrations, BBG will present 100 Years and Growing: A Century in the Children’s Garden, a special exhibition on the rich history of the Children’s Garden and the education programs that have grown out of it over the last century. Historic images, artifacts from the archives, and visitor-contributed stories, recipes, and artwork will illustrate the forward-thinking philosophy of the Children’s Garden’s founders—that of hands-on education and connecting children with the natural world. The exhibition will take place from May 10 to September 21, with a reception on June 7. A series of Garden-wide informational signs and educational plantings in the Annual Border display will accompany the gallery exhibition and compliment special programs throughout the Garden.

In spring 2014, BBG will also publish The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature, a new handbook of activities for families and a companion to the popular Gardening with Children. Throughout the year, BBG will also publish veggie recipe cards featuring favorite recipes from Children’s Garden participants and staff.

Further details on these and other Children’s Garden celebrations and programs will be announced in early 2014. For more information, please visit

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