Bronx River Foodway Connects Community to Edible Plants and Health

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Bronx River Foodway

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Bronx River Foodway

What They Do: Located in Concrete Plant Park in the South Bronx and led by a public-private partnership between the New York City Parks Department and the Bronx River Alliance, the Bronx River Foodway is a half-acre edible food forest that connects community members to the land. The Foodway is open to the public, free of charge, and offers dynamic programming to educate community members about the health and medicinal properties of plants. It was developed as a model for using public lands to increase food sovereignty and to build community by foraging and harvesting edible plants. 

How They Do It: Community members of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to explore the Foodway, forage edible plants, take a guided tour, participate in a volunteer opportunity, or attend a scheduled event like an herbal decoctions workshop or a foragers’ gathering. During the winter months, anyone can access medicinal herbs for free from the Foodway’s community apothecary. Virtual programming is also available on the Bronx River Alliance’s YouTube page

Edible plants found in the northern portion of the food forest, both planted and naturally growing (weeds), include yarrow, echinacea, elderberry, raspberry, thyme, goldenrod, dandelions, mugwort, chickweed, and more. 

The southern portion of the Foodway consists of raised bed gardens that are open to all, for both planting and harvesting. 

The Bronx River Foodway Team, consisting of community-based and agency stakeholders, provides a forum for discussions of priorities for the Foodway and is responsible for promoting its use and planning community events. 

Every November, the Foodway holds a Community Banquet to share lessons learned, provide an opportunity to taste all the edible plants from the food forest, and honor community chefs and foragers who have made use of the Foodway throughout the year. 

Mission: To demonstrate a new model for how public lands can be utilized for food production and education, and to reconnect community members to the land and to cultural food traditions.

Latest project/campaign: On March 30, 2024, Concrete Friends and the Bronx River Foodway Team will host a free Spring Equinox celebration from 11 AM to 2 PM at Concrete Plant Park. Attendees will make mugwort mochi rice cakes, envision an herbal garden, and learn about seed saving. Registration is not required to reserve a space but is encouraged to receive event updates. 

Major Funding: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Creatives Rebuild New York

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $3 million (total for the Bronx River Alliance)

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: The Bronx River Foodway is the first edible food forest to be located on NYC park land and the only public place where people can forage freely and legally. It is an example of how to create a green infrastructure on land formerly occupied by a now-abandoned concrete plant and how to help mitigate issues related to climate change (e.g. flooding) while improving local food security and land sovereignty. 

Concrete Plant Park
1370 Westchester Ave
Bronx, NY 10472

Core Programs: Edible food forest, community apothecary

Number of staff: 2

Number of volunteers: 300+ per year

Areas served: South Bronx

Year Started: 2017

Program Coordinator: Nathan Hunter 

Contact Information: Email: | Phone: 718-542-4124


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