UDSP students had the privilege of hosting not one but two green professionals for Week 5.
Nir Krakauer, a civil engineering professor at City College of New York, schooled participants about the different branches of engineering---mechanical, chemical, electrical, and civil. Amy Crews, one of New York City's premier landscape architects, wowed students with examples of projects she's worked on.
UDSP students listened attentively and asked Nir and Amy numerous questions about their respective fields. We were thrilled that the kids were excited to learn about sustainability related careers. The UDSP was designed, in part, to make students aware that they, too, can become green professionals if they want to.
Students also got to ply their skills at design again. They executed some top-notch designs based on their expanding knowledge of sustainability and permaculture.
The UDSP crew are doing a superb job taking care of Renaissance’s rooftop garden’s plants and vegetables. They're also diligently maintaining the UDSP compost bin, recycling organic matter into a deep, rich soil for our container beds.
The UDSP teaches kids about design, and sometimes you don’t need to look far for inspiration. Greg K. (Ezra’s dad) was kind enough to invite students from both classes to his house near Renaissance Charter School. Students saw a great example of a local residential urban garden.
They loved Greg's rainwater harvesting system that fed not only his garden but a separate rain garden. The kids also dug Greg's compost tumbler and munched on delicious grapes from his grape arbor. Ezra is sharing what he’s learned from the UDSP with his dad, so they can make their garden even better.
The UDSP offers many opportunities for students to learn and grow using a variety of teaching methods. For Week 5, we watched two movies about sustainability and permaculture.
The first, Inhabit, is a stunning visual film featuring some of the top names in permaculture break down their craft and concepts in ways that anyone can understand. We also screened Dirt The Movie, learning how urban development, industrial farming, and mining are creating drought and climate change. The film highlights individuals who are doing amazing work to restore our mutually beneficial relationship to soil.
Check out the trailers for both movies below:
In the UDSP, we switch it up whenever we can. Students got in a little exercise one morning, doing jumping jacks and push-ups to stay physically engaged. Sound body, sound mind!
We packed two field trips into one for our next to last week. UDSP students visited one of Brooklyn Grange’s two rooftop farms, the biggest soil rooftop farms in the world. Brooklyn Grange grows over 50,000 lbs of organic produce each year!
Students also made their way to Smiling Hogshead Ranch, a thriving urban farm on an abandoned MTA/LIRR terminal, previously an illegal dumping ground. Founding member Gil Lopez gave them a hands-on tour, letting students sample berries and vegetables. Hogshead is a permaculture demonstration site that practices bioremediation. They also donate a portion of their vegetables to the community for free. We encourage anyone to visit either Brooklyn Grange or Hogshead. Both are at the forefront of urban design and sustainability.
Angel: At Hogshead, we tasted some unexpectedly spicy flowers. Or maybe they were just hot. Some flowers tasted like lemon. There were berries that weren’t ripe but they still tasted good!
The kids really enjoyed going to Hogshead---maybe a little too much. A few were inspired to take impromptu showers on site, which Gil was happy to oblige.
Stay tuned for our final UDSP Blog about Week 6. We'll have some awesome photos of UDSP students' graduation, including their presentations. You don't want to miss it!
Justin Remus is the Communications Director of Beyond Organic Design.