It was a sunny afternoon in May when students from Proskauer’s Adopt-a-School Partner, Manhattan Hunter Science High School, and members of the Firm’s professional resources team boarded a ferry to Governors Island. Our primary objective was to assist with the expansion of the GrowNYC Teaching Garden. By the time we boarded the return ferry back to Manhattan, we had expanded the garden as well as our appreciation for the impactful work that GrowNYC is doing for our city.

Farm work was on the agenda for our group of 14 New York City high school juniors. Before digging into the afternoon’s service project, the students toured the 21,000 square foot urban farm, reveling in chicken sightings and sampling spicy mustard greens and arugula freshly picked from the garden’s food plots. Our students learned about the evolution and purpose of the garden including the journey of the vegetables, herbs and fruits grown there – from urban farm to local NYC Greenmarkets to table – and finally, how their work would impact and contribute to the city’s sustainability goals.

With a sense of purpose, the students dug out several sizeable plots of land in order to create habitable flower beds. They gathered their gardening tools: gloves, wheelbarrows, and shovels. They worked together to turn the existing soil, shoveling through rock and compacted dirt before loading up wheelbarrows with fresh soil to distribute amongst the newly tilled flower beds. The flowers grown in those beds, we were told, would ultimately be sold at local Greenmarkets across the city.

It was difficult, dirty work, but these young adults persevered, shifting the heavy rock and soil by hand in order to build and enrich the flower beds. There was a strong feeling of camaraderie and accomplishment toward achieving a challenging goal. Most importantly, the class understood that their hard work would directly impact and benefit the city in which they live and learn.

So perhaps the next time you visit a New York City Greenmarket, you will come across the flowers that call the flower beds of Governors Island home.

Our projects with Manhattan Hunter Science High School are part of Proskauer’s Adopt-a-School program, which is the Firm’s signature education initiative. We partner with public and charter schools across the U.S. to mentor high school students through various enrichment and skill-building activities.