Tag Archives: garden

Garden or Run, Pick A Poison.. Or Both!

10 Mar

There are two big events coming up in April that I’m participating in, and I’d love some of my Give And Get friends to join me! The first is Hands On New York Day on April 16th and the second is the Penny Harvest Run for Change on April 30th. Whether you’re looking to get down in the dirt or run a 5K, both of these events are sure to make you sweat. Read on for details on what these events are all about and how you can register:

Join New York Cares and 5,000 other volunteers to make our city’s parks and gardens cleaner, greener, and ready for summer. Hands On New York Day is an incredible day of service; we may rake and clean debris, or plant, or paint fences and benches! Teams haven’t gotten their assignments yet but it’s sure to be a fun, green time no matter what. Last year our team was placed in Queens where we painted benches in Bowne Park.  It’s a great way to get outside with some friends and make a difference, and also an important fundraiser for New York Cares that supports the 11,000 volunteer projects that run year-round. I’ve thrown together a team for this and NY Cares other annual event, New York Cares Day, for the past three years. This year is no different: Join Team Give and Get NYC on April 16th


The first ever Penny Harvest Run for Change is going to be an amazing day, and I’m not just saying that because I’m helping to plan it! It will raise money for one of the most important causes – supporting children so they can have the kind of future that you and I have been given, and help prevent them from dropping out of school and teaching them the collective power of youth leadership and philanthropy. Common Cents, creators of the Penny Harvest and Run for Change, will lead thousands of people as they run from Pier 84 on 43rd Street, down the Hudson River Greenway to the finish line at “Penny Park” located within Nelson A. Rockefeller Park. Following the run, you can attend the Student Service Fair and take a look at the amazing work these kids have done and celebrate their committment (and yours!) to service. If you’d like to sign up, you can register here and join the Common Cents Volunteers Team, which I’ll be leading on the 30th.


Both of these events require a $25 registration fee, which goes towards covering the event costs and fundraising, and also giving you a sweet new t-shirt to wear the day-of. You can register for both like I have, or pick one that is better suited to what you’d like to do. Both events, be it beautification of our parks or contributing to the education of our children, will benefit the City of New York by investing in it’s future. You can comment below and/or email any questions you may have to info@giveandgetnyc.org


Gardening at Future Leaders Institute

9 Aug

What: weeding and garden maintenance

Where: Future Leaders Institute, Morningside Heights, with New York Cares

When: Thursday, 6-8pm

When you arrive at the address for Future Leaders Institute charter school, you’ll notice that the name above the entrance is Hans Christian Andersen Complex. Enter. You’ll meet your team leader there and head over to the gardens, where you can begin on a number of tasks. I was given some options: 1, pulling weeds in the rocks and flower bed; 2, chopping and pulling large, 5′-6′ tall weeds; or 3, discerning what is a weed and what is a not, and pulling the weed. I immediately eliminated the 3rd option, as I have no idea how to differentiate a weed from a plant. I’m pretty sure one of my house plants is actually a weed. The second option seemed like a fun challenge, but I wasn’t sure if I trusted myself with a weedwacker. So I chose the low-and-slow weeding option #1.

Though it was a small area, me and my fellow volunteers (I think there were about 7 of us in one garden) pulled those suckers for 2 hours straight and just barely finished. Even though it was hard work, it was oddly calming. There were a few pedestrians walking around, but other than that, it was a perfect, mind-numbing activity done in relative silence; I welcome things like this after a hectic day at work.  Another great thing with a project like this is that you can see the difference you’re making, literally. I posted some pictures below of the before and after; I never realized how ugly weeds are until this day. I used to love dandelions-I’m a changed woman.

At the end of 2 hours, we had made a huge dent in the work needed to get this garden looking 100% awesome and well-manicured. Luckily, it will continue to get better, since this wasn’t a one time activity; this was only the second session, & ‘Gardening at the Future Leaders Institute’ will continue to run through the school year. After the maintenance and weeding are done, the project will begin to include the students, teaching them how to garden and participate in hands-on activities. And they’re lucky-I was huffing the sweet smell of fresh rosemary and loving it. These kids have a source of fresh basil, thyme, tomatoes, and much more to look forward to.

I usually end my posts with ‘other things to know’, but I can’t take full credit for the helpful tidbits this time;  NY Cares team leader Nada gave a full description of what to wear, subway directions, even weather reports the day of the activity. So, besides my advice, which is that you should bring some bug spray, here are some other things Nada the team leader will tell you:

  • Be on time! The project is only two hours long.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that can get dirty.
  • Relax, and be kind to your back [and knees]- be sure to get up and stretch from time to time.
  • Ask if you have any questions.

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Hands On New York Day

26 Apr

What: Revitalize parks, gardens, playgrounds, community centers, and schools

Where: Bronx River Park, through New York Cares

When: Saturday, 830am-2pm

Hands On New York Day is one of New York Cares biggest days of the year. They mobilized about 5,000 volunteers, in partnership with the MillionTrees initiative, and sent them out to about 75 parks and gardens throughout the 5 boroughs. Some people planted trees, others re-painted fences or picked up trash; volunteers were doing whatever was necessary to fit the needs of the park/garden/school to revitalize and beautify the site.

I volunteered to be a registration leader and ambassador; the first job required that I register volunteers as they arrived at the site, give them a t-shirt, collect a registration fee if necessary, and have them sign a waiver. The ambassador’s (also me), were then supposed to collect all of the registration materials, money and any extra t-shirts, and bring them back to the New York Cares office on W. 29th Street. Though I’m sure that  it wasn’t the case at most of the sites, ours had some major issues that caused a late start. The directions that were sent out to most of the volunteers (including me, who was supposed to be at the site early) were wrong, so people had to get back on the subway and go two more stops to the correct meeting spot. It was really confusing; to add to this, I took the wrong train to begin with, so I was already running late. But that’s my own fault for being directionally challenged.

All of that aside, the Bronx River Alliance did a great job getting people registered and into t-shirts before we got there, and throughout the day were extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their park. It was a great day to  be outside and planting trees. This is an annual event, so you’ll have to wait until next year to try this activity out, but there are tons of opportunities during the warmer months to get outside and volunteer. Check out the organizations on my resource page to find something for you; these type of events/activities are great for groups, as you can all work together digging and planting and just having a good time.