Green Bronx Machine and Future Food Institute, led respectively by Stephen Ritz and Sara Roversi, have worked together for years with the goal of creating a global educational initiative. Building upon April 11, 2022, event in the Bronx, with Mayor Stefano Pisani of Pollica visiting the Bronx and gifting Italian heritage seeds to NYC Department of Education and NYC Mayor’s Office and Director of Food Policy Kate Mackenzie, the collective set forth on a plan to replicate GBM’s success in the US overseas and create a partnership and cultural exchange that will bring underserved students from both countries together to grow something greater. “Students in the Bronx grew these seeds all spring and summer long creating an international connection.” Said Ritz: “We collectively understand that the Mediterranean Diet is healthy for people and the planet. Our work is fundamentally aligned with the United Nations SDG’s and brings people together in the best interests of community and the planet.” Ritz goes on to say: “This partnership started with seeds – heirloom seeds from Italy and heirloom students from the Bronx and curious learners in Pollica – and we are determined to inspire healthy living and healthy learning, all around the world.” Says Sara Roversi: “The academic results, behavioral change, and amount of food grown via Green Bronx Machine using their Green Bronx Machine Curriculum and Tower Garden technology is the perfect recipe for introducing teachers and students to systemic change.”
Per Mayor Stefano Pisani: “As Mayor of Pollica, the Italian UNESCO Emblematic Community of the Mediterranean Diet, I am particularly concerned about young people and schools where children learn and spend most of their time. Two pillars of Mediterranean good living are: conviviality – the sharing of the meal and eating together for good health AND the garden – a source of constant learning and for the care of resources and our ecosystems. With Stephen Ritz, Green Bronx Machine Curriculum and Future Food Institute, we are aligned in values and the common mission to educate children.” Says Sara Roversi: “We have been working in Italy for years to raise both ecological consciousness and food literacy with all generations – this program makes that possible. Stephen Ritz and Green Bronx Machine are essential because their methodology has been proven. Working together and with the Municipality of Pollica and CampuStore in partnership with UNESCO to bring our content and culture to the forefront of regional and global attention is the model for success. I am ecstatic that we will begin with 600 schools to start, and we are just getting started.”
“At the heart of our work and Green Bronx Machine Curriculum are high performing schools, happy, healthy children, and well-prepared and well-trained teachers with access to resources and ongoing professional development – children and schools that function better and eat well, in line with the SDG’s,” says Ritz. “We are proud to use Tower Garden technology, a patented, aeroponic growing system with both indoor and outdoor compatibility that uses 95% less water and 90% less space to grow food all year long. Nothing could be simpler, more inclusive, or more student friendly.” Planned activities include school and cultural exchanges both in-person and virtually. James Coffman, Director of Tower Garden states: “We at Tower Garden applaud this effort, understand the power of connecting and educating the next generation via food access and school programming and are proud to be the growing technology of choice for this bold initiative in Italy and look forward to growing together in communities across Europe and all around the world.” Says Ritz “We are seed spreaders and peace promoters!” Summing it up Mayor Pisani states: “This partnership, with proven and dedicated partners, combined with government and industry support, will set the standard for communities to eat well, stay well, and save the planet!”
Future Food Institute exists to make exponential positive change, to sustainably improve life on earth, through education and innovation in global food systems. By training the next generation of change-makers, empowering communities, and engaging government and industry in actionable innovation, Future Food Institute catalyzes progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. With offices, living labs, innovation hubs, and ambassadors around the world, the Future Food ecosystem is uniquely positioned to connect communities, generate ideas, and inspire action throughout the food system value chain. For more information: www.futurefoodinstitute.org.
Green Bronx Machine (GBM) is an impact driven, for-purpose organization with 501(c)(3) status. GBM builds healthy, equitable and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development. Dedicated to cultivating minds and harvesting hope, its school-based model and propriety curriculum uses urban agriculture aligned to key school performance indicators, to grow healthy students and healthy schools. Simultaneously, GBM also transforms once fragmented and marginalized communities into neighborhoods that are inclusive and thriving. For more information, visit https://greenbronxmachine.org.
In the last year alone, Green Bronx Machine has distributed more than 130,000 pounds of food, reclaimed over 10,000 pounds of food from landfill, produced 5,000-plus pounds of produce grown locally in the Bronx, built, and stocked three new food pantries, delivered weekly 152 backpacks of food to students and fulfilled more than 1,600 emergency food requests from families in need. Green Bronx Machine has trained nearly 1,500 teachers using their Green Bronx Machine Classroom Curriculum, impacting more than 50,000 students throughout the Bronx, across America, and around the world. Recently named Social Innovation Award winners, Green Bronx Machine was named NYC Food Policy Center COVID Food Hero, is a Top Ten Health and Wellness Program in America, and named a three-time Top 100 Educational Innovation in the world.