George Ball, Chairman of the Board of The Burpee Foundation, has awarded a $25,000 grant for The Bridge Urban Farm Horticultural Program. The Bridge is a non-profit agency providing mental health services and housing in New York City. The program, in collaboration with The Horticultural Society of NY, began on the garden roof deck of the Manhattan headquarters of The Bridge and has expanded to include two urban farms, one in the Bronx and one in East Harlem. The program has grown dramatically as it impacts several neighborhoods throughout the city.
The goals of the Urban Farms are to teach clients about the benefits of eating vegetables and fruit, provide free and easy access to vegetables in order to increase their intake in order to improve their health; to reduce reliance on food banks and other food resources, and to teach them about good nutrition. The farms also provide clients with work training opportunities in horticulture and paid jobs. The hope is that working with plants, growing their own produce and being outdoors triggers both illness prevention and healing responses for clients of The Bridge.
Clients have started and maintain a blog of their experiences at myurbanfarm.blogspot.com where they outline their accomplishments with the Urban Farm Program, and illustrate their enthusiasm and involvement.
According to Dr. Peter Beitchman, Executive Director of The Bridge, George Ball–who is also Chairman and CEO of W. Atlee Burpee & Co.–and The Burpee Foundation were pioneer supporters of The Bridge’s Horticultural program when it began in 2005.