World Behind Vines

Ties Between United Nations (FAO) and GreenThumb

The first ever food garden on international territory marked its first year on July 24 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The UN Food Garden is an initiative of a small group of UN staff who partnered with local volunteers from the NYC Parks’ GreenThumb Program to transform unused land at the United Nations Headquarters complex into food gardens.Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 1.23.51 PM

The garden encompasses close to 200 square feet of growing space. Ten beautifully designed metal raised beds are packed with a variety of vegetables and fruits from around the world. These foods range from chickpeas, lentils legumes, to Korean chives and Indonesian peppers. The food is used by UN employees or donated to organizations such as UNICEF.

Catherine Zanev, associate expert for climate change in the UN’s Chief Executives Board for Coordination and along with five-to-10 other members in the UN Garden Club team, volunteer their time to plant. “It’s just nice to be able to come out here and take a break from your long day at the computer and get your hands dirty,” says Zanev.

Last year, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recognized NYC Parks’ GreenThumb program for its goal for a greener and better future by taking a large step to support community gardens.

The Food and Agriculture Organization is a United Nations agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.

One of previous Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s signature accomplishments, was the implementation of the city’s first sustainability plan: PlaNYC 2030. Current mayor Bill de Blasio added One NYC, which revives Bloomberg’s plans and give them more depth. These plans involve, “reducing greenhouse gas to have the cleanest air of any U.S. city and  sending zero waste to landfills by 2030 in the famous city.” One step towards these goals are community gardens.

The United Nations FAO and New York City’s 2030 plans creates an opportunity to work together to support the same communities by solving two problems at once: Food scarcity and global warming.

Community gardens encourage an urban agriculture so hungry citizens can easily obtain nutritious food. They also encourage the growth of the urban farming sector in neighborhoods with necessary infrastructure.

Under One NYC, a collaboration between NYC Parks’ GreenThumb program and the Youth Leadership Council pushes for youth to volunteer and learn at 11 community gardens throughout the boroughs.

The FAO recognized the importance of community gardens which led interns from the FAO to interview sScreen Shot 2016-08-10 at 1.24.05 PMome of the youthful volunteers this month and place their inspiring words on plaques into the United Nation’s new food garden. 

Liam Kavanagh, the Parks & Recreation Department’s first deputy commissioner spoke out during the “Why Food Matters” conference at the UN food garden a few weeks ago and stated, “With abandonments all over New York City, individuals and communities took it upon themselves to reclaim those spaces and turn them back into vital community resources… to recognize that there are people in the city who are food insecure. We as New Yorkers can help bridge those gaps… community gardens are apart of it.”

About Huiqi Pan


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