Connecting New Yorkers to Plants, Gardens, and the Environment: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

by Deirdre Appel
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Name: Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG)

What They Do: Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) serves communities in New York City and beyond with its displays of world-class gardens, plant collections and exhibits, and education and community programs. Situated on 52-acres between Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum, it welcomes over 800,000 visitors  to explore its more than 12,000 types of plants on display.

How They Do It: BBG was developed as a way to safeguard a green space in the midst of a growing cityscape of buildings and concrete. With an $21.5 million operating budget and 210+ staff, the garden  is able to maintain its reputation as one of the very best examples of urban gardening and horticultural displays.

Mission: According to its website, BBG “connects people to the world of plants, fostering delight and curiosity while inspiring an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment.” It aims to educate people of all ages about the power of conservation through its vast displays and educational programs that implement a learning-by-doing style.

Latest project/campaign: Last year the BBG opened the Water Conservation Project, a garden-wide sustainable approach to outdoor water management. The project reduces BBG’s impact on New York City’s water systems by recirculating rainwater collected throughout the 52-acres and channels it back through the garden’s vast network of brooks and ponds. The effort has resulted in reducing water consumption from approximately 22 million to approximately 900,000 gallons per year.

Major Funding: Membership fees from its 18,000+ member network, benefit event tickets, class and entrance fees

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Revenue/Operating Budget: $21.5 million

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: BBG is the Brooklyn partner for the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability’s NYC Compost Project hosted by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which helps to reduce waste in NYC and rebuild city soils by giving New Yorkers the knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to produce and use compost.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Community Greening programs promotes urban greening through education, conservation, and creative partnerships. Programs include free, seasonal workshops on sustainable food-growing topics, Making Brooklyn Bloom, an annual spring symposium on sustainable urban home/community gardening, the Brooklyn Urban Gardener (BUG) certificate program that cover the basics in urban gardening and community greening, and the Community Garden Alliance, a collaborative network of community gardeners in Brooklyn, most of whom engage in urban farming and food production practices.

BBG’s adult education program offers a range of lectures and workshops to help people better connect with their food system. The curriculum is organized into categories ranging from  art, floral design, food, gardening, and horticulture to nature and wellness, and include courses in container gardening on rooftops, introduction to organic vegetable gardening, soil science 101, and seed starting   Interested adults can either take a one-time drop-in class or enroll in a series. For the very serious, the BBG offers certificates in horticulture and composting, which require successfully completing eight courses.

In addition, the BBG offers a Children’s Garden that allows hundreds of children to register for a plot on the 1-acre community garden where they can grow vegetables and flowers under the supervision and direction of interns and staff. The Children’s Garden also has a compost area where young people can learn more about the benefits of composting.


Location: 990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11225

Core Programs: Gardens and Collections; Educational Activities; and Gardening Resources

Number of staff: 210 full-time; 140 seasonal

Number of volunteers: 700+

Areas served: Brooklyn

Year Started:  1910

Director/President: Leslie Findlen, Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement, and Dorota Rashid, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance, are currently acting as Interim co-presidents since the president stepped down in January 2020

Contact Information: See contact information for various departments here


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