The Horticultural Society of New York is making Western Queens a greener place one public school at a time by introducing garden planning to the school curricula.
The group has been working with four public schools in Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City, to design and install new learning gardens and implement educational programs.
On Wednesday, PS 150 held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with parents, students and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) for its garden that was installed by The Horticultural Society in collaboration with GardenWorks last month.
The garden, located in the school’s front yard, features perennial flowers and herbs, which attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees, stepping stones and a gazebo.
It also has an underground water storage system that collects rainwater, as opposed to it going to a storm drain. Pamela Ito, director of Children’s Education at The Horticultural Society, said the collected water is used to water the garden through a hand pump.
“If there was more green infrastructure like this water pump we would have less water pollution and sewage overflow,” Ito said.
The garden also provides outdoor classrooms by adding tree stump seating in the new green space.
Students and teachers worked with The Horticultural Society to design the garden.
“It will benefit the whole school community, “ Carmen Parache, principal of PS 150, said. “I think that in a city environment we can lose sight of the importance of having gardens.”
Ito said The Horticultural Society’s children’s education department will also provide training for teachers with interdisciplinary and real-world applications of science, math and English from now to December.
Jennifer Pincay, a parent at the school, supports the program.
“My son is so excited about this. He likes to learn new things,” she said. “This is good for the kids.”
The garden will be used as a teaching instrument and will be incorporated in the children’s regular programming.
“It’s so important to teach children at the youngest of ages how to contribute towards greening their own neighborhood and how they have a role in making the city more sustainable,” Van Bramer said. “Through hands-on learning tools like this garden they’ll be able to make the connection between their own actions and the improvement of the environment.”
The project was funded with a grant from the Greening Western Queens Fund of North Star Fund.
The Horticultural Society also built gardens at PS 12, PS 151 and IS 141 this year. They have built gardens at eight schools in the last three years.