Most of the time, I don’t like to toot to my own horn, but on occasion it’s the only way to go. A lot of things have to come together when you find the right person for the right job: good recommendations, gut instinct and just plain luck. All of these things coalesced, when we hired Nick Storrs to be our Urban Farmer.
Farming is a hard job; any farmer will tell you that, even farming in New York City on 15,000 square feet has its challenges. I can say from past experience, that there are many competent people who can propagate seeds, grow vegetables, harvest a crop and deal with pests and diseases.
The Learning Garden on Randall’s Island has additional challenges. Our Edible Education Program ( a partnership with GrowNYC) hosts over 25 school groups a season. As the garden grows, the program grows. Our kids rely on our Urban Farmer to be a know-it-all: to answer all questions with accuracy and humor; to include everyone in the conversation, even the chickens; to challenge without intimidation and to be a person they will follow around the garden, because it’s just plain fun.
I often follow Nick around the garden as one of the photographers documenting the day’s activities. I want to put down the camera and just be part of the group. Charisma is one of those qualities you either have or you don’t. Nick has it. The kids who come to the garden are the beneficiaries of his observations, wisdom, awareness and expertise; all rolled up in a “pied piper-like” personality.
If you would like your class to follow Nick around the garden, please contact phyllis.odessey@parks. nyc.gov