Executive SummaryBrooklyn Botanic Garden launched its community horticulture program, BrooklynGreenBridge, 14 years ago, in 1993. Institutional support and community response wereoverwhelmingly positive from the beginning, and by 2006 the program had grown to theextent that a strategic plan for the future became a necessity. Moreover, a recently releasedplanning document by the New York City mayor’s office, entitled plaNYC 2030, projectsthat New York City will grow by one million people by the year 2030. Greening andsustainability are top program priorities, according to the report. Brooklyn, currentlyequivalent to the third-largest city in the U.S., with 2.5 million residents, has the second-lowest percentage of green space per capita compared with other cities. Brooklyn BotanicGarden sees GreenBridge as essential in implementing the city’s goals as well as its ownmission to improve the environment here and throughout the city.1Building on its strong record as a unique program for a botanic garden, GreenBridge haslaunched its strategic plan for the next four years with a new mission statement undergirdedby its key values. The plan identifies emerging new program priorities and evaluates existingprograms.With oversight from the vice president of Education, the director of Brooklyn GreenBridgeled the planning process, which included input from GreenBridge staff members, BBG’spresident, the vice presidents of Education, Horticulture, and Science, and input from keystaff from Development and Science. A planning consultant was the overall coordinator.Leaders of primary constituencies representing block associations, community gardens, andhorticultural therapy sites provided significant input in a daylong session. Other related BBGstaff from Education, Development, Horticulture and Science offered recommendations andfeedback. Additionally, along with BBG’s president, leaders of two related city agencies, afoundation, and a college offered suggestions and insights regarding the role GreenBridgeplays in the larger community during individual interviews conducted by the consultant.Our new vision for the future projects a significantly greener and more livable Brooklyn bythe year 2015:Community horticulture and conservation have transformed Brooklyn. All citizens enjoy thebenefits of community gardens, parks, and verdant rooftops and streetscapes; people’srelationship to nature is enhanced by cultivating plants; neighborhood gardeners are creatingcompost and improving soil, growing food, caring for street trees and building safe, healthycommunities. Brooklyn Botanic Garden demonstrates the latest advances in sustainablegardening for the entire city. GreenBridge continues to pioneer this work and is recognizedas an inspiring model for botanic garden community outreach programs around the world.1 Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s mission statement includes two related goals: 1) reaching out to help the people of all ourdiverse urban neighborhoods to enhance the quality of their surroundings and their daily lives through the cultivationand enjoyment of plants, and 2) seeking actively to arouse public awareness of the fragility of our natural environment,both local and global, and providing information about ways to conserve and protect it.
To carry out this vision, we’ve set forth a new mission and set of GreenBridge values:GreenBridge, the community environmental horticulture program of Brooklyn BotanicGarden, promotes the greening of the urban environment through education, conservationand creative partnerships. GreenBridge is building a vibrant network of people, places andprojects dedicated to making Brooklyn a greener place. • We value our strong foundation within a world-renowned botanic garden located in the center of Brooklyn with impact that stretches far beyond our 52 acres. • We advocate sustainable gardening techniques to replenish the soil, increase biodiversity, and grow healthy plants for food, habitat, conservation and pleasure. • We collaborate with citizens and community organizations on urban greening projects that advance the public good. • We serve the diverse community of Brooklyn by being a knowledgeable resource regarding plants and the environment. • We strive to understand the evolving needs of our constituents and to identify innovative, replicable ways to address those needs. • We support environmental justice and work with partners to identify and reach out to neighborhoods of the greatest need.
Our strategic priorities are clear: 1. Preserve, protect, and expand green space and demonstrate new opportunities for greening in Brooklyn. 2. Encourage participation in sustainable gardening practices that improve soil, water, air, and increase biodiversity. 3. Expand community leadership and the base of support for Brooklyn GreenBridge and Brooklyn Botanic Garden programs.Our work includes three new initiatives as well as three ongoing programs:NEW INTIATIVES1. Brooklyn Urban Gardener (BUG)Over the years, GreenBridge has offered hundreds of workshops to community residentsand organizations on a wide range of over 30 topics. An emerging theme heard fromparticipants has been the need for more training. People have expressed the desire to learnmore through a series of training sessions, rather than one-time workshops, and to berecognized for completing the training process. New, trained leaders are critically needed inthe community. To this end, GreenBridge seeks to create an overall training programthat meets the needs of the urban gardener, specifically targeting individualsworking in community gardens, block associations, and other community-basedorganizations. BBG will be seen as a leader in educating the public about sustainablegardening, including encouraging practices to expand the tree canopy throughout Brooklyn.This program will allow BBG and an active trained volunteer corps the opportunity to shareskills with a broader audience and foster greater diversity within the horticultural community.
2. Community GreeningBrooklyn GreenBridge is committed to educating the public about sustainable gardeningpractices that support healthy communities of people, plants, and wildlife. In addition, ourTherapeutic Horticulture Network supports the work of citywide programs andprofessionals who use horticulture to promote healing. Building on the GreenBridgeCommunity Garden Alliance, new initiatives in our outreach education will includehelping community gardeners grow food for local consumption and building publicawareness about biodiversity and environmental horticulture, including such newfrontiers for greening as rooftop gardens, green roofs, and rain gardens. A newvolunteer corps of certified “Brooklyn Urban Gardeners” will help train communitygardeners in all these areas.3. Street Tree Stewardship InitiativeBrooklyn GreenBridge has been a leader in educating the public about the pressing need totake better care of street trees in New York City. For many years, GreenBridge has offeredfree workshops on street tree bed gardening, empowering countless citizens to water andcare for their neglected trees. Working with Trees New York and the NYC Parks andRecreation Department, BBG has also for many years provided a campus and instructorstwice a year for the Citizen Tree Pruner course that certifies graduates to prune street trees inNew York City. Now GreenBridge will develop the Street Tree Stewardship Initiativein conjunction with the mayor’s plaNYC 2030 to plant a million trees in NYC. Ourspecial emphasis will be to encourage proper care of tree beds for both beautificationand the health of the trees, thus boosting the survival rates of the million newlyplanted trees and those already shading our streets. Collaboration with critical partners,especially with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and Trees New York, will bevital to the success of this campaign.
ONGOING PROGRAMS:4. Brooklyn Compost ProjectThe Brooklyn Compost Project operates under Brooklyn GreenBridge, using the resourcesof both Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) and the New York City Department of Sanitation(DSNY) to promote compost outreach and education throughout the borough. Through theefforts of the Compost Project, we have improved soil in Brooklyn, diverted waste from themunicipal waste stream, and increased community leadership through public education,which has resulted in increased composting in community gardens and households.Working with the DSNY and with our respective constituencies, we will also nowresearch other gardens’ and organizations’ best practices and models; work withBBG’s Horticulture Department to implement these practices at the Garden;investigate school, community, and business composting practices; conduct siteanalysis of compost demonstration sites in community gardens; and target Spanish-speaking communities for compost outreach.
5. Greenest Block in Brooklyn ContestOne of the first major initiatives of Brooklyn GreenBridge was the Greenest Block inBrooklyn Contest, which started in 1994. This contest, a unique program among botanicgarden outreach, makes horticulture important to homeowners, stores, and neighborhoods.The Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest will continue to feature the summer competition,the spring window box kit sale, and yearlong street clinics for block associations. Thecontest will increasingly reflect the new GreenBridge strategies in the areas ofsustainability, environmental justice, and community building. Led by blockassociations and merchants’ organizations, the contest will continue to be a tool forstrengthening these associations and their role in the overall greening of Brooklyn.Our new Street Tree Stewardship Initiative will be a new component of our greeningoutreach through the contest and will include prizes and incentives for improvingstreet tree care.
6. Making Brooklyn BloomMaking Brooklyn Bloom has become a BBG tradition as the annual kickoff event of thespring gardening season. Since 1982, it has provided a day full of activities at BBG andexcellent horticulture information for the gardening public. A new theme is selected eachyear, often with a featured speaker who delivers an inspiring keynote address on that subject.The free event offers hands-on workshops taught by community gardeners, BBG staff, andgreening experts. Exhibitors from regional greening organizations present innovative,organic gardening techniques for home and community gardeners. The goal of this eventis to educate the public and BBG staff about sustainable gardening. MakingBrooklyn Bloom provides a forum where community members can demonstrate theirleadership and is a networking opportunity for everyone who shares the goal ofmaking Brooklyn greener. BBG is uniquely suited to bring all these programelements under one roof and to provide on-site outdoor workshop space.
EvaluationOur ability to accomplish this strategic plan is possible through the commitment of allsectors of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. As GreenBridge seeks to implement new initiatives aswell as refine existing programs to meet the emerging needs of the community, we will usethe knowledge and skills of our colleagues at BBG to assist and support us in our work.GreenBridge must also concentrate on building and sustaining community partnerships tohelp BBG carry out this ambitious plan. Constituency support through participation inregular feedback sessions will strengthen these efforts. To keep ourselves on target as we rollout these projects, GreenBridge staff will engage in an evaluative process that will includesuch components as peer review and stakeholder input along with periodic monitoring ofthe plan by BBG Board of Trustees’ Education Committee and by GreenBridge staff.Rooted in partnership, GreenBridge will continue to serve as a vital conduit between BBGand our expanding community as we work together to make our world a greener place.For a copy of the complete plan, please contact Robin Simmen, Director of GreenBridge, at718.623.7251 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.