Governors Island adds to NYC’s growing urban farm scene

There’s a new destination for budding green thumbs.

The Governors Island Teaching Garden is one of the latest urban farms to serve the NYC landscape, which already boasts farms on rooftops, in parks and at Randall’s Island.

A joint effort of GrowNYC and the Trust for Governors Island that was completed in May, the 8,000-square-foot garden is dedicated to educating children in New York about urban agriculture and healthy eating. It hosts public school visits and summer camp groups on weekdays from April through November, and it is open to the public for family visits on weekends during the island’s public season from May to September.

“I think there’s very much a need for this programming,” GrowNYC’s Shawn Connell said of the “seed to plate” curriculum that the garden offers its young visitors.

The garden grows 48 varieties of produce, as well as edible flowers that students can pick and eat at the flower bed. With the help of a staff of educators, students are able to plant, harvest and cook fruits and vegetables, fully witnessing the cycle of gardening and nourishment.

The garden hosts around four to five student groups a week for free, two-hour visits. There’s a waitlist of about 200 student groups that have applied for a field trip to the destination.

Schools that have District Public Health Offices are given priority over other public schools in the city because students in these communities may not have access to fresh produce or may suffer other dietary-related health issues, Connell said.

“We prioritize schools in communities that have documented public health issues,” he said.

District 75 schools, which serve special needs students, are also prioritized, he added, as the garden is an ideal place for students to experience hands-on learning.


Agricultural curriculum

The Governors Island Teaching Garden is more than just rows of produce. These unique features help put the “teaching” in teaching garden.

Pizza Garden
This section employs the urban technique of vertical farming, and, as the name implies, grows the ingredients that go into the making of New York’s official food — pizza — such as tomatoes and oregano.
Three Sisters
Here, students get an agricultural history lesson on a method of farming used by Native Americans in which three staple foods — corn, squash and beans — are grown together through a symbiotic system.
Weed Library
At this “library,” which features a collection of weeds found in the garden, students learn about the similarities and differences among plants and the relationships between their food and other things growing in the same space. 


If you go: Governors Island Teaching Garden is open to the public noon-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 27. For more, visit grownyc.org.