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Sustainable Community Development

Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) is an urban oasis where people, plants, and cultures are celebrated through inspiring gardens, innovative educational programs, and real-world applications of environmental stewardship. QBG is a stabilizing organization that offers environmental education, engaging programming, and cultural activities. QBG also provides an essential resource for people who do not have a yard, giving them access to trees, flowers, plants, and open space. But above all, the Garden’s most important undertaking is to foster sustainable choices—decisions that protect and nurture our environment and our community. We welcome individuals, community organizations, corporations, as well as high school and college groups into the garden. Our community outreach programs include: 

Corps Interns Interns (City Clean-Up Corp, AmeriCorp, Environmental Corp and City University of NY (CUNY) Culture and Service Corps) and the Summer Youth Employment Program

Work-program partners with the city employ youth age 16-24 in an internship that allows them to experience working at a public garden in the fields of horticulture, urban farming, environmental education, and nonprofit administration. The Garden has been a host site for the programs for many years and continues to engage new ones as they become available. QBG conducts periodic surveys for youth intern program participants, tracking their progress on learning environmental support and job training skills. They also track basic demographic information including zip code, pronoun identification, education aspirations, and ethnicity for participants along with # of hours of service.

Photo: Interns work alongside staff to support our youth programming and help us to bring nature’s classroom to our community.

Intern Programs for Hearing Impaired & Other Persons with Disabilities 

At Queens Botanical Garden, the Intern Program is designed to welcome inclusion group partners to give job readiness skills and engaging projects to individuals with disabilities. Reaching all corners of the Garden, a dozen community organizations including Lexington School for the Deaf and Services for the Underserved join our teams. Through growing plants and growing interns- we win for the community and for the Garden!

Volunteer Program

QBG has a volunteer base of approximately 350 long term participants and 2000 event support participants. There are many ways to get involved- get fresh air and your hands dirty with our knowledgeable Horticulture staff; assist visitors and children explore nature with Education and Public Programs; gain valuable technical skills in Maintenance; learn to turn Compost or tend to our Urban Farm; or share your Administrative and creative skills with our friendly staff.

Botanical Education

The Garden is the primary source of botanical education for children and adults in Queens with educational programs for seniors, adults, and children including classes, tours, and workshops. In fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 -- June 30, 2019), QBG's Environmental Education Workshops served nearly 35,000 schoolchildren. These workshops are highly effective settings for lessons in biodiversity, conservation, ecology and environmental stewardship and are now also offered virtually. In addition, QBG's Professional Development Program trains several hundred teachers each year, with new virtual options added in 2020 as well. In a typical year, cultural and seasonal events like Harvest Fest, Lunar New Year, and Music in the Garden draw a diverse audience of New Yorkers for shared cultural experiences. Throughout 2020 and early 2021, QBG has piloted new programmatic offerings, including timed-entry experiences, grab-and-go crafts, festive décor throughout the Garden, and decentralized celebrations throughout a month or season taking the place of crowded daylong festivals.

Photo: Children exploring nature with staff in our Children’s Garden.

Sustainable Agriculture

The QBG Farm site works to serve, educate and train the community through various outlets. Through participating in internship programs and community volunteer days, the community has the opportunity to learn sustainable farming methods and directly contribute to growing food for the community.

Volunteers of all age and abilities have joined in and very often they become regulars who come every single week. Specific volunteers aid in community engagement because farm staff also learn from different experience levels and practices that volunteers bring.

Photos: The QBG Farm donated over 4,500 lbs of food to local organizations to help combat food insecurity through the height of the pandemic in Queens, NY.

NYC Compost Project hosted by Queens Botanical Garden

The NYC Compost Project (NYCCP) hosted by Queens Botanical Garden helps to reduce waste in NYC and rebuild City soils by giving New Yorkers the knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to produce and use compost locally. The NYC Compost Project programs are carried out by staff funded by the New York City Council and managed by Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability.

The NYC Compost Project offers compost-related educational opportunities, technical composting support, distribute compost, and processes food waste generated in Queens, NY. We are currently working on supporting communities to open neighborhood-based public food scrap drop off sites ensuring food scraps are composted locally. We also have a Master Composter Certificate program, an advanced composting course that trains a select group of New Yorkers every year to support, develop, and maintain community-based compost projects.

Food Waste Drop-Off (FSDO) & Local Composting

We support neighborhood food scrap drop-off sites and compost food scraps locally at QBG. Drop-off sites are located at greenmarkets, subway stations, public libraries, and gardens interested in hosting weekly neighborhood food waste drop-off bins, including on-site at the Garden. 

Events, Offerings, & Technical Assistance

New Yorkers have built an expansive network of community compost sites across the 5 boroughs. NYC is home to hundreds of community-run compost sites. We provide technical assistance to these sites by helping construct composting systems, manage volunteers, prevent, and resolve neighborhood conflicts, source materials, and more.

OUR IMPACT IN 2019:

  • Diverted over 353,159lbs of organic waste from the landfill
  • Interacted with over 12,000 people during outreach events and activities
  • Had 578 volunteers supporting the NYCCP at QBG
  • Performed over 40 technical assistances to community compost sites
  • Distributed 216 bags of compost

Photo: Garden staff lead community-based events to teach participants about composting.

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Located at the northeast corner of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Flushing, QBG evolved from the five-acre “Gardens on Parade” exhibit showcased at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Officially opening as “The Queens Botanical Garden Society” in 1946 after local residents saved and expanded the original exhibit, the Garden remained at the original World’s Fair site until 1961, when it was moved to its current location on Main Street in Flushing. Among the original plantings taken from the 1939 site are two blue atlas cedars that frame the iconic tree gate sculpture at the Garden’s Main Street entrance today. QBG has become a 39-acre oasis in one of New York City’s most bustling and diverse neighborhoods.