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Stephen Ritz uses Urban Farming to Transform the South Bronx

Stephen Ritz

Stephen Ritz works with kids in poverty. Many of his kids are learning disabled – thanks in part to poor prenatal nutrition – and many are homeless or living in foster care. So, how did planting gardens give these kids hope?

The South Bronx teacher works with kids in one of the poorest districts in the U.S., and in his class they learn to nurture gardens from seed all the way to bountiful community gardens all over the Bronx. The trouble with these gardens, as Ritz mentions over and over, is that they take a lot of work and he is not a farmer.

How do you translate urban farming into something accessible and portable?

Ritz teamed up with president of Green Living Technologies, George Irwin, and learned how to plant living walls. Not only could they plant and care for these walls of food right in the classroom, but it meant that his handicapped students could also take part in caring for the crops.

This project is seriously amazing, and Ritz’s TED talk about his work, his kids, and they gardens is so inspiring. You can check out the talk right here:

I love that not only does he teach them to plant and grow food but how to prepare it and even share it with their fellow students, teachers, and the community. He’s teaching these kids about nature and nutrition while they learn job skills that pay a living wage at the same time.

Photo via TEDxManhattan

2 comments
  1. Marie

    So, how can I reach him? I want to find out if my child’s 3rd grade class from the Bronx (or even the whole school) could go to visit him and his plants, or vice versa.

    1. Becky Striepe

      The TED site doesn’t give contact info, but I did a little Googling for you. It looks like he works at Discovery High School – maybe they can help point you in the right direction!

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