Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

September 28, 2017

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 | news@parks.ny.gov

New York State Parks Announces Opening of New York City’s First Public Greenhouse at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park

Horticultural Society of New York to Lead Full Slate of Educational Programs

New York State Parks today announced the opening of New York City's first public greenhouse, which will become a center of urban gardening and nutritional educational programs at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park in Harlem. New York State Parks is partnering with The Horticultural Society of New York ("The Hort") to offer community education programming and expanded access to fresh produce at the greenhouse.

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "The Greenhouse will not only help community members of all ages learn how to use fresh produce to cook healthy regional and traditional meals, they will be empowered to grow fresh produce themselves. State Parks is grateful to Governor Cuomo and our partners for helping provide innovative park programs and facilities that help to enrich the lives of New York City families."

The 2,160-square-foot facility includes a classroom/demonstration kitchen connected to a greenhouse, where plants can be cultivated year-round. With assistance from a full-time educator from The Hort, the nutrition education center will:

  • Present year-round education classes and public events on growing fresh vegetables and herbs and using fresh produce to improve family health and nutrition.
  • Offer programming for the park's summer camp children ages 6-13.
  • Invite local garden and nutrition education providers to offer programs at the greenhouse, especially during the colder months when their outdoor facilities may be limited.
  • Enable community members to come together to select vegetable varieties to grow into seedlings in the greenhouse – which will be distributed to all participants.
  • Help Harlem residents access fresh foods at Riverbank through a youth-run farmers' market and connections to Community-Supported-Agriculture programs.
  • Link up with Harlem public schools to provide classes for students and professional development for teachers to help them integrate activities involving fresh produce, cooking, and nutrition into their curriculum.

The $775,000 project was funded through Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 program as well as grants totaling $300,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and New York City Councilman Mark Levine.

Sara Hobel, Executive Director of The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort) said, "The Hort is excited to be able to offer programs at this beautiful new education center, the first of its kind in a public park in New York City. Our horticulture and education staff will offer a variety of free and affordable gardening courses, special events, hands-on workshops, and informative conferences to connect all New Yorkers to plant-based wellness and nutrition."

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, "I've made it a priority to support projects that put gardening and urban farming within reach of more New Yorkers, because they improve access to fresh food while providing opportunities for education, healthy outdoor activity, and community-building. The programs this greenhouse will make possible will touch the entire community, enabling everything from year-round youth education programs to farmers' markets. I thank Governor Cuomo and Councilmember Levine for supporting this transformative project."

New York City Councilmember Mark Levine said, ""For countless members of our Northern Manhattan community, Riverbank State Park has been an invaluable resource for decades. Building this greenhouse gives our community an incredibly unique outlet to creatively engage in gardening and horticulture right here in our neighborhood. I am so proud to have cofounded this project with my colleague, Borough President Gale Brewer. And I am deeply grateful to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation and the NYC Horticultural Society for their commitment to operating this new facility in the years to come."

State Senator Marisol Alcántara said, "The opening of this greenhouse in Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park is a testament to the years of unceasing work Assemblyman Farrell has put it for his community. Our parks are one of the most important treasures in New York City, and having spaces like this greenhouse to keep plants year-round will not only provide green space in the winter, but also safeguard our park's biological diversity. I am very proud to participate in cutting the ribbon for this project."

All programs will be posted on the park's website, in the park's seasonal programming guide and on The Hort's website.

Founded in 1902, The Hort is a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating the vital connection between plants and people. Its mission is to sustain the vital connection between people and plants. Social service and public programs educate and inspire, growing a broad community that values horticulture for the many benefits it brings to our environment, our neighborhoods, and our lives.

The project is part of Governor Cuomo's effort to improve and revitalize the New York State Park system. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is leveraging $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 69 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.parks.ny.gov, connect with us on Facebook, or follow on Instagram and Twitter.