The Short Version: For New Yorkers, GrowNYC serves as a go-to resource for sustainability projects and farm-fresh foods. Since 1970, the nonprofit has inspired volunteerism and community engagement around recycling events, garden programs, and farmers markets. The team approaches environmental awareness with optimism and vigor, providing numerous resources and tools for people looking to get involved. You can add some spice to your life by shopping for fresh foods at 50+ Greenmarkets, or you can meet dozens of passionate environmentalists by helping out with the organization’s gardening projects. Plus, GrowNYC’s widely attended events give people with common ideals a place to come together and improve the city’s environment. Whether you’re looking for an interesting date venue or a way to meet like-minded people in your neighborhood, GrowNYC invites you to get active, plant a seed, and see what grows from it.
On the crowded streets of New York City, people hurry through their day with their heads down and phones in hand, impatient to get home. They’re isolated even while surrounded by a sea of people and blind to the vibrant community around them. Then, they turn a corner, and the cold, metallic atmosphere changes in an instant into a garden or a farmers market bursting with greenery.
The senses come alive again in an open environment where locals can stop to appreciate the world around them.
“Our Greenmarkets are a breath of fresh air in an intense concrete jungle,” said Amanda Gentile, who works in communications and development at GrowNYC. “They catch you off guard in a more relaxed atmosphere, so I think it’s a great way to connect with people.”
Founded in 1970, GrowNYC is a community-oriented environmental organization that offers programs like farmers markets and hands-on education to create a better city and improve the environment. The nonprofit offers New Yorkers the opportunity to get in tune with nature while engaging with a community of environmentalists.
You can support them through a donation or by volunteering your time to help the city go green.
GrowNYC provides many avenues for you to get involved at their markets, events, and service projects where you can meet people who care about health and sustainability. A sense of joy and enthusiasm bonds many of the attendees and volunteers.
“The number one thing I’ve gained is the chance to meet like-minded people,” said Kate L., a volunteer with GrowNYC. “Volunteering at GrowNYC has allowed me to expand my friend network and to feel like I’m really part of this crazy NYC community.”
Expand Your Social Network at 50+ Greenmarkets & 15 Youthmarkets
Starting in 1976, GrowNYC began hosting local farmers markets across all five boroughs. Their diverse fare serves up seasonal favorites, like pumpkin in the fall and corn in the summer, as well as year-long fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products. An eclectic network of farmers give New Yorkers access to fresh, healthy, and local food in widely attended markets ranging in size from two to 15 stands.
GrowNYC Greenmarkets operate every week in as many as 50 locations throughout the city. You can find a market near you online and then head out into the open air to get your errands done.
Over 200 local farmers, fishers, and bakers come out to sell their own goods — no middlemen or brokers — so you know where your food is coming from. You can go straight to the source and ask the farmers how they grow their crops to ensure top quality.
If you want to get sweet honey for your honey or pick up a date while you’re picking up dates, GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets (and youthmarket farm stands) can be a great resource for local New Yorkers. Sellers journey from upstate farms or neighboring states to offer the fruits of their labors to hungry singles and couples. “They’re vibrant social hubs,” Amanda told us.
Many shoppers consider GrowNYC’s bustling markets (24 of which are open year-round) to be flavorful staples in the city, so you might just see some familiar faces as you fill your basket with the freshest locally sourced foods.
Popular Events Attract a Young & Environmentally Conscious Crowd
To raise environmental awareness, GrowNYC hosts many fun demonstrations and activities for local New Yorkers to enjoy together. While many of their events are instructive and geared toward schools, some are good old-fashioned adult fun. Hosted at Union Square, GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Summer Fridays invite people to enjoy live music and local treats in the evening air.
Summer Fridays at Greenmarkets are social affairs lasting from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. a few special nights a year. A glass or two of beer, wine, or cider lightens everyone’s mood and creates a party atmosphere of people mingling at the food stands.
Amanda described these summertime events as “prime opportunities for the dating scene,” because they give people with similar passions a chance to meet one another in a fun social setting.
As part of the Zero Waste Programs funded by NYC’s Department of Sanitation, GrowNYC puts together numerous educational workshops and community events focused on recycling and reusing.
Their most popular recycling events are called Stop ‘N’ Swaps, which invite locals to give away reusable wares and take home a gently used item for free. During these weekend events, people bring clean and portable goods, like clothes, games, books, and toys, and bargain hunters sift through these donated items for something that suits them. You can find anything from a wallet to a television set at Stop ‘N’ Swaps.
“These exchanges have a rabid following in the community,” Amanda told us. “People go all over the city to attend them because they know they can get some cool stuff for free.” Every month, hundreds of people come to these recycling events and prove that one person’s trash is another one’s treasure.
Volunteers Build Community Gardens & Encourage Recycling in NYC
When you do something good for your neighborhood or for the world, you become filled with positive energy. People pick up on that and often find it an attractive quality. Volunteering is not just the right thing to do — it’s a great way to introduce yourself in the best light to potential new friends or dating prospects.
GrowNYC has a wide range of volunteer opportunities including helping out at events Greenmarkets, or recycling outreach. You can sign up online to volunteer at Greenmarkets, local events, and service projects.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor work, physical exercise, the challenge of the sometimes extreme weather, and camaraderie of the windrow builds,” said Frederick, a GrowNYC volunteer from Brooklyn. “My greatest joy is doing public outreach, encouraging others to become volunteers.”
Their ongoing community gardens program builds, renovates, and sustains green spaces across New York City. Since Liz Christy began the program in 1975, the staff and volunteers have built more than 90 gardens and supported hundreds more through hands-on gardening days. In 2015 alone, the nonprofit built seven new gardens which together totaled over 80,000 square feet. Whether it’s at a school or in a local park, GrowNYC plants seeds for long-term growth throughout the city.
Volunteers who don’t like getting their hands dirty can run a recycling station at a local marathon or festival in the city. At certain public events, GrowNYC conducts interactive recycling demonstrations, quizzing people about which items go in which receptacles, to ensure people properly dispose of their water bottles, cardboard signs, and other trash materials.
Each year, the nonprofit sees about 2,700 volunteer shifts. These diverse individuals come together under a common purpose and work to make New York City a more sustainable and welcoming place. Some of GrowNYC’s community garden projects attract as many as 200 people seeking to make a difference.
One volunteer named Lore P. commented, “For me, it’s awesome to be part of this group of volunteers because they care so much about the ideals GrowNYC stands for.”
GrowNYC: A Sustainability Resource to Rally Like-Minded Folks
The friendly atmosphere of a farmers market or public garden can bring city folks out of their isolated daze and into a larger community focused on health and activism. If you’re interested in sustainability, conservation, and environmental awareness, GrowNYC has a complete calendar of events, programs, and resources for you.
“We want people to participate in our programs,” Amanda emphasized throughout our conversation. “Whether it’s by eating local food, gardening, recycling, or volunteering, our goal is to make it easier for New Yorkers to make sustainable actions every day.”
Daters in search of a way to give back and meet fellow environmentalists can serve a common good by volunteering at GrowNYC programs, attending their events, and shopping at Greenmarkets. Hundreds of New Yorkers come together through this nonprofit to make New York City a more sustainable and hospitable place for generations to come.
By pursuing your passions and becoming more engaged with your community, you’re opening yourself up to a world of social possibilities while making positive strides toward a greener society. It’s just good karma all-around.
Whether you’re looking for a worthy cause or a new friend who shares your interests, GrowNYC encourages people of all backgrounds to roll up their sleeves and dig into their community events.
“I simply love the opportunity to be around fresh produce and great people who love to talk about fresh produce,” said Ashley N., who volunteers with GrowNYC. “It brings me joy to give back to my community, to educate others, to learn, and to advocate for fresh, healthy, locally grown food.”