A large group of Community Agriculture learning how to craft kokedamas (moss balls).

New York City might be best known for bright lights and tall buildings. But green spaces are an equally important part of the city’s fabric. Beyond the sanctuary of Central Park, the concrete jungle offers ample opportunities to connect with nature. In fact, members of the Community Agriculture Project at NYU have their very own green space, where students plant, prune, weed, and grow, in the heart of Manhattan.

A collage: 1) Various vegetables, 2) Community Agriculture Club members working together in a small garden.
Putting Down Roots

The Community Agriculture Project’s garden occupies one-tenth of an acre in Washington Square Village. And in that small space, it boasts not only a diversity of fruits and vegetables but also flowers and mosses that change with the seasons. In addition to weekly meetings, during which members get hands-on gardening experience, the club hosts a variety of agriculture-related events throughout the school year. Due to the seasonal nature of gardening, winter brings home-cooked meals (using local produce, of course), agriculture-related movie nights, and pickling parties.

Students recently learned how to craft kokedamas, decorative moss balls that originated in Japan. Together, a dozen club members created their own kokedama, planting them with a variety of ferns and succulents. Kokedamas thrive indoors and require little care, making them the perfect project for busy students.

A collage: 1) Students holding their kokedamas, 2) A vegetable plan covered with a tarp in a small garden.
Flex Your Green Thumb

When Alexander Cushen, a Class of 2021 Physics and Anthropology double major at the College of Arts and Science, arrived in New York City from Australia, he felt an unexpected pang for the great outdoors. “I always took plants for granted as a kid,” he explains. “But when I came here, I felt homesick. I missed greenery and nature.” When a friend told him about NYU’s Community Agriculture Project, he jumped at the chance to learn more about urban agriculture.

Now club treasurer, Alexander has seen hundreds of seeds turn into plants. Plus, he knows all about the science behind it. His favorite part of the club, however, is putting his newfound skills to use. “I love the fact that we grow things we can eat. For me, the best thing about gardening is that it’s an activity that has a practical outcome,” he says. “Learning to garden in the city and grow my own food is the most rewarding thing I’ve done.”

Growing Food and Community

“Being a part of the Community Agriculture Project is some of the most fun I’ve had at NYU, and I’ve made some of my best friends here. Everyone is so passionate about what we’re doing. They really want to be a part of it. Plus, I’ve found that people who like plants tend to be really friendly,” Alexander affirms. “It’s right there in the name: we’re all about ‘community.’”