The Citywide School Garden Initiative

was established by GrowNYC and The Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC to inspire, facilitate and promote the creation of a sustainable school garden in each and every public school across New York City.


Our Vision for NYC School Gardens:
We work with schools to ensure that gardens are sustainable teaching resources in the long term, responsive to each individual community’s vision and needs, and transformative for student learning in the cafeteria, classroom, and beyond. New York City schools have a big and important job. We need them to be places of learning, helping to prepare our children to be a next generation of productive and positive citizens. But we also need schools to be healthy spaces, concerned with what our kids eat and how they are active. We need them to be connected to our families and communities, helping to bring together diverse groups of people around one central mission of student development. We need them to support our students to learn how to be friends and collaborators, to empathize with others, to be good leaders, to make contributions. For these reasons and many more, we believe that school gardens can be incredible tools for schools looking to develop the kind of holistic programming and real world connections they need to meet the varied needs of their students.


Grow to Learn is the citywide school gardens initiative for New York City. Established in 2010 by GrowNYC and the Mayor’s Fund, our program is managed today through a partnership between GrowNYC, the NYC Parks Department’s Green Thumb division, and the Department of Education’s Office of School Food. With major support from our sustaining funders, Grow to Learn provides the ongoing resources, technical assistance, and training to get learning gardens growing in every NYC school.



GrowNYC is a hands-on non-profit which improves New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

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GreenThumb provides programming and material support to over 600 community gardens and all the Grow to Learn Schools. Green Thumb provides material resources and training for gardeners across all five boroughs.

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Garden to Cafe, a program of NYC DOE School Food, connects school gardens with the cafeteria through seasonal harvest events and educational activities. Participating schools are supported to host biannual harvest events that take place in the fall and again in the spring.

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Grow to Learn provides:

Funding twice a year in the form of Mini-Grants of $500-$2,000 Materials for free, such as: seeds, seedlings, soil, lumber, compost, mulch, and tools for registered schools

Technical Help through skill-building workshops; harvest events; garden builds; one-on-one support at site visits, on the phone, and via email

A Citywide Network that makes the scale of New York City manageable by bringing together partnerships and resources into one convenient, central location for school gardeners

And Advocacy to build citywide support and value for school gardens And Advocacy to build citywide support and value for school gardens

We recognize that school garden programs come in many sizes, shapes and locations including classrooms, schoolyards, rooftops, and in partnership with urban farms or community gardens. Our goal is to see that every New York City public school student has the opportunity to get their hands into the soil — and learn and grow.

Meet the GROW TO LEARN Team!

We’re gardeners, teachers, chefs, scientists, artists, composters, and more. We’re all passionate about gardening and outdoor education, and we can’t wait to work with you and your school to get you growing.


Kira Cohen-Milo
Green Beetz School Manager

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Che’Von Cooper
School Gardens Associate, GrowNYC, Americorps VISTA

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George Edwards
Garden to Café Coordinator, NYC Department of Education Office of SchoolFood

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Arielle Hartman
School Gardens Coordinator (GrowNYC)

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Rasheed Hislop
School Gardens Coordinator (Green Thumb)

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Jessie Kerr-Vanderslice
Director of Grow to Learn NYC (GrowNYC)

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Marie Vulcain
School Gardens Coordinator (Green Thumb)

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Grow to Learn has occasional opportunities for community members to volunteer in school gardens or on school garden build days. If you are interested in volunteering with Grow to Learn, please send us a message using the submission form below. We do not currently have any open full or part time staff positions. When we do, we will post them here! Sign-up to our newsletter to stay informed about open positions and opportunities with Grow to Learn.


Grow to Learn school gardens do need community volunteers to help them out from time to time. If you are interested in volunteering, please use the form below to let us know how you can help. Businesses and organizations that would like to sign up as a group can volunteer and support us in a variety of other ways. If you are a corporate group that is interested in sponsoring a school garden build day or learning more visit our   “Corporate Volunteers Page” here.

Individual submission form

  • Please let us know if there are any specific types of services or specialties you can offer. If not, don’t worry- an extra set of hands and good energy is always welcome.

  • Please include in your message :

    1. When you are able to volunteer.
    2. Is this a one-time availability or recurring?
    3. What days and times during the week are you available?
    4. What time of the year?


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