Sep 9th, 2009

Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness — A Podcast, Drew Becher

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

A few weeks ago, Drew Becher, Executive Director of the New York Restoration Project, came to  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and spoke at our Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness symposium about how NYRP has been transforming New York City through there urban greening initiatives.  He is a dynamic speaker, and we hope that you enjoy his presentation — Trash to Treasures: Greening One Block at a Time. New York City has done a wonderful job of reclaiming part of their water front and turning it back to a lush green environment for all to enjoy. It is with the hope that Richmond can learn from NYRP that we bring you his presentation. Developing Richmond’s waterfront (or not) has been on the mind of lots of folks recently, so hopefully Becher will offer another perspective on riverfront development.

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Drew Becher–Green Tonic Symposium”]

If you’d like to learn more about Drew Becher and NYRP, feel free to read on, while you listen.

New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reclaiming and restoring New York City parks, community gardens and open spaces in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the city’s five boroughs. Since its founding in 1995 by Bette Midler, NYRP has achieved dramatic results by investing in the greening and beautification of under served communities throughout New York City. NYRP staff and a corps of volunteers have planted hundreds of thousands of trees, shrubs and flowers to support the restoration of the City’s parks and community gardens; removed more than 1,929 tons of garbage and debris from project sites; saved 114 community gardens from commercial development; transformed an illegal dumping ground into the five-acre Swindler Cove Park and Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse; and launched the largest urban reforestation campaign in America while continuing to serve thousands of families and at-risk youth through environmental education programs and events. NYRP, in partnership with New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, spearheads one of New York City’s most ambitious environmental programs – MillionTreesNYC – an initiative that came as the result of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s and Bette Midler’s dream of planting and caring for on million new trees over the course of a decade. Since its launch in October 2007, the initiative has planted and is caring for over 240,000 trees citywide – 20 percent ahead of schedule.
Background: Drew Becher has been Executive Director of New York Restoration Project (NYRP) since July 2006. His background includes broad experience in city government, public/private partnerships, and community/grassroots outreach.Firmly committed to improving New York City’s parks, community gardens and open spaces, he has launched a variety of innovative programs designed to improve the quality of urban life and to attract economic growth in New York City’s five boroughs. One of the most ambitious is the MillionTreesNYC initiative, a citywide movement to plant and care for one million trees by 2017, which Becher undertook with help from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and NYRP Founder Bette Midler. It is the most extensive plan to strengthen an urban environment ever adopted by an American city. One hallmark of all such NYRP projects is an emphasis on quality design. To meet that high bar, Becher typically enlists the help of some of the country’s best landscape architects and designers in NYRP projects. One example was the reimagining
of NYRP’s 57 community gardens, which have been featured in numerous major publications including Architectural Digest, The New York Times,
and Metropolitan Home.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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