Project Events

2014 Daffodil Project Awards Announced

April 14, 2014

Last fall, NY4P brought the Daffodil Project to schools and New York City Housing Authority developments hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, including in Broad Channel and Far Rockaway, Queens, Midland Beach in Staten Island, Red Hook, Brooklyn and Manhattan’s East Village. As these and millions more daffodils eek their way into bloom after the long winter, NY4P will honor five outstanding participants next Thursday at the Annual Daffodil Breakfast at Bryant Park Grill.

2014 Lynden B. Miller Citywide Daffodil Award Recipient

Horticultural Society of New York
Sara Hobel & Hilda Krus
GreenHouse Program

NY4P staff boarded a bus before 7am last fall at Queensboro Plaza, bound for Rikers Island. There, we spent the day with Krus, planting daffodils bulbs in a traffic circle that greets jail visitors and staff, and on a lawn next to the juvenile detention center. This memorable morning was made possible through the remarkable work of the Horticultural Society of New York’s GreenHouse Program, which has engaged pre-release Rikers inmates since 1989. Since then, program participants have started a successful on-site greenhouse and designed several acres of gardens. And a new public-private partnership through the initiative works to employ graduates of the program as horticultural maintenance staffers at Department of Transportation Public Plazas, particularly those in lower-income communities.

Borough Award Recipients

Justin Czarka and Grace Binuya
P.S. 48 Joseph Rodman Drake School and Hunts Point Slave Burial Ground Project

In 2010, P.S. 48 teacher Justin Czarka found a photo from the turn of the century that piqued his curiosity. It described a slave burial ground in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx, where the school is located. Determined to find out exactly where the ground was located, he and colleague Grace Binuya developed a new curriculum and led their students on a search for clues. Their work led them to nearby Joseph Rodman Drake Park. A recent federal site survey has confirmed their finding. Now, their work at the park has evolved into a broader stewardship effort. Last fall, NY4P joined them to plant daffodils there, which will serve as an annual reminder of a site that had long been forgotten.

Last fall, NY4P brought the Daffodil Project to schools and New York City Housing Authority developments hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, including in Broad Channel and Far Rockaway, Queens, Midland Beach in Staten Island, Red Hook, Brooklyn and Manhattan’s East Village. As these and millions more daffodils eek their way into bloom after the long winter, NY4P will honor five outstanding participants next Thursday at the Annual Daffodil Breakfast at Bryant Park Grill.

Anne Marie Rameau
Breukelen Sight Garden, Brooklyn

Anne Marie Rameau didn’t just attend NY4P’s distribution at the Seth Low Houses in Brownsville to pick up her daffodil bulbs. Almost immediately upon her arrival, she was busy clearing out the butterfly garden in front of the community center. A few hours later, weeds had been cleared and the space was ripe for planting. This work was nothing new for her. With the help of the New York City Housing Authority’s Garden and Greening Program, Rameau has cultivated a sprawling garden at the Breukelen Houses, in Canarsie, since she moved there in the late 70s. Her work illustrates not only how essential the Housing Authority’s gardening program is across the city, but also the potential of often-overlooked NYCHA open spaces.

Richard Toussaint
Harlem River Park Task Force

In the 1980s, there was no park along the shores of the upper Harlem River: just an inaccessible stretch of land sandwiched between the river and the Harlem River Drive. Richard Toussaint helped change that. He pushed the Parks Department to acquire and develop the space, and when Harlem River Park opened late 90s, his dream was largely realized. Now, he continues to advocate for the park’s expansion as a member of the Harlem River Park Task Force – a complex task given the array of city and state agencies that control land adjacent to the park. Between a slew of community meetings, he finds time to join NY4P in the park – both for cleanups and Daffodil Project plantings.

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance

At a moment when there is no shortage of public officials and planners from New York City and beyond thinking about the long-term future of the Rockaway peninsula’s waterfront, the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance is working on the ground to foster a deeper connection between the community and its shoreline. Much of their work is focusing on greening open spaces through local school partnerships. In 2013, Dupont, the Alliance’s founder, hosted a Daffodil Project distribution event, NY4P’s first in the Rockaways. Daffodils are, of course, just a small symbol of resilience. But this spring, they are a bright spot in an area still struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Staten Island
Friends of Historic Tappen Park

Stapleton, on Staten Island, was once a center of commerce, home to several German-American breweries in the 19th century. But the 1964 completion of the Verrazno-Narrows Bridge shifted the Island’s commercial center away from the neighborhood, and the community felt the economic effects. Tappen Park suffered too. Kamillah Hanks was elected to lead the newly formed Friends of Historic Tappen Park in 1999, and has since worked to restore the greenspace’s role as a true town square. She has partnered with the city to being bring programming to the park, and has cultivated a local volunteer network that includes local businesses and a nearby school for autistic children. Now, she says, the neighborhood is on an upswing – and that it all flows from the park at its center.

2013 Bulb Distribution Schedule

Saturday, September 21 – Rockaways bulb distribution, co-hosted by the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Firehouse 59 (5803 Rockaway Beach Blvd), 9am-1pm

Saturday, September 21 – Queens bulb distribution, Forest Park at the Overlook, 10am-1pm

Sunday, September 22 – Staten Island bulb distribution, Silver Lake Park at the Tennis House, 10am-1pm

Saturday, September 28 – Bronx bulb distribution, in front of Betances Community Center, 10am-1pm

Tuesday, October 1 – Bronx bulb distribution, at the Bronx Borough Hall Greenmarket in Joyce Kilmer Park, 10am-1pm

Saturday, October 5 – Brooklyn bulb distribution, at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, 10am-1pm

Sunday, October 6 – Manhattan bulb distribution, Union Square, 10am-1pm

Saturday, October 12 – Brooklyn bulb distribution, at Seth Low Houses Community Center, 10am-1pm

Before and After the Storm, 2012 Daffodil Project Touched Many

December 10, 2012

The transformation among children involved in this fall’s Daffodil Project plantings at New York City Housing Authority community centers was striking.
Early on, we noticed a pattern.  As children gathered for planting instructions outside their community centers, many had their heads down. Handshakes were limp, and hellos were mumbled. But as the process was explained, gloves put on, and bulbs and trowels passed out, the spark of inquisitive energy became palpable. The kids became alive with questions, and smiles appeared almost to a person.

They ran between the plots with their tools and bulbs, giggling, eager not only to plant their bulbs but to distribute them perfectly in each plot – spaces they are guaranteed to remember as their own come springtime, with a sense of accomplishment.

They asked to dig new holes and plant more bulbs wherever there was room. And when they came across their first earthworm, forget about it – pure, unadulterated glee spread among the young planters like wildfire as everyone gathered to observe the little creature before carefully placing it back in the soil.

Before we knew it, our time together was up, but they wanted to know: would we return to share the garden with them in springtime? They tapped us on the shoulder, or sometimes offered big hugs, to say thank you.

Those children have a story to tell about how the Daffodil Project touched their lives, as do the thousands of other volunteers who participate in the Project. Perhaps the story’s about a longstanding annual park planting, or a trip to one of our borough distributions, where somehow lugging a sack of 600 bulbs in rough red netting is always more fun than you expected. Or maybe it’s about taking the perfect picture for our photo contest.

While everyone’s story is unique, what those children felt – that sense of wonder, community pride and innocent ownership of their little plots of land, the satisfaction they feel from the simple act of planting a daffodil bulb in a small hole in a seemingly unnoticed corner of New York City – is the same for everyone.

This year, we focused on spreading that feeling to as many new audiences as we could, including through three new initiatives. We held a distribution and six youth plantings at NYCHA developments citywide, including two in Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy. We partnered with the Horticultural Society of New York City to line the Rikers Island visitor and juvenile detention center entrances with bulbs. And we joined with Common Cents, the nation’s largest children’s philanthropy program, to deliver Daffodil Project planting kits to 20 elementary schools citywide.

We had our highest demand for bulbs ever, in part thanks to our most ambitious outreach effort to date. We distributed free daffodil bulbs to nearly 700 individuals and neighborhood groups, and 3,000 kids participated in our school and NYCHA plantings. As a result, more than 250,000 new daffodils will bloom next spring, adding to the five million already planted over the past 12 years.

In our 2013 season, we’ll aim even higher. But what’s most important is what underlies all the numbers: those stories and small moments, those annual traditions and neighborhood gatherings – that feeling of connection to something both intimate and local but also so much bigger than any single person or neighborhood.

2012 Daffodil Project in Full Swing 

October 29, 2012

With more than 250,000 free bulbs distributed throughout the five boroughs, planting season is underway. NY4P will hold six youth plantings with public schools in each borough and five with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) – also one in each borough. 

NY4P-NYCHA Partnership Kicks Off With East Harlem Youth Planting

Last Thursday, we officially launched our Daffodil Project partnership with NYCHA as Authority Chairman John B. Rhea, New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYCHA & NY4P staff, and an enthusiastic group of kids who participate in the Clinton Community Center after-school program gathered at DeWitt Clinton Houses for a daffodil planting in the East Harlem community center’s backyard and front lawn.

For the first time, we're teaming with NYCHA’s Gardening and Greening Program for five plantings at NYCHA properties in each borough. The Program is a beautification and environmental education initiative that benefits NYCHA residents and senior, community and day care centers. This fall, more than 300 NYCHA residents will plant approximately 8,000 daffodils. 

“We’re thrilled to partner with Chairman Rhea and NYCHA’S Gardening & Greening Program by giving NYCHA residents in every borough the opportunity to participate in the Daffodil Project and become stewards of their public spaces,” said NY4P Executive Director Holly Leicht. “The Daffodil Project remains a powerful memorial to 9/11 but also has become a symbol of civic pride and community volunteerism. Its spirit is defined by the thousands of New Yorkers who join together to make their neighborhoods, and their city, a more beautiful place to live.”

“This exciting collaboration with New Yorkers for Parks is a great opportunity to move NYCHA’s Green Agenda forward and to work to increase resident participation in making their developments and communities greener,” Rhea said. “Clinton Houses and the other NYCHA sites that will receive these generous donations of daffodil bulbs will benefit from plantings that will beautify their open spaces and serve to unite them under one common cause – the well-being of their community.”

Bay Ridge Students, Con Edison Volunteers Join NY4P to Plant 9/11 Memorial Garden

Last Saturday morning was one of remembrance in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, as we joined more than 100 students, along with parents and faculty from William McKinley I.S. 259, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White, New York City Council Members Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. and Vincent J. Gentile, and employee volunteers from Project sponsor Con Edison to plant more than 3,000 daffodil bulbs in front of the school – one in honor of each person who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“The students at McKinley have led an inspired effort to learn about, understand and memorialize the tragic events of 9/11, and we’re honored that they’ve invited us to join them here this morning,” NY4P Executive Director Holly Leicht told the crowd in a ceremony before the planting.

Last February, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center honored McKinley for its 9/11 awareness curriculum, which has inspired students to create a nearly 700-foot mural and more than 600 original poems over the past six years in remembrance of the attacks.  Now, the daffodil tribute will complement their extensive indoor memorial.

Funding for the Daffodil Project is made possible by Con Edison, the New York City Council, Ernst & Young and the Greenacre Foundation.

Remnant of Bronx Park's Distant Past Revitalized by Ernst & Young 

August 17, 2012

In May, Friends of Claremont Park President Debra Myers discovered two long retaining walls, obscured by overgrown plants for decades, along the top of a hillside in the park. Later, she discovered that the walls were part of a private estate that once occupied the property. With help from volunteers from Daffodil Project Corporate Sponsor Ernst & Young, the restoration of those historic remnants got underway this week.

Thirteen E&Y volunteers joined NY4P staff, Myers and Parks Department District Manager Shawn Cargil Tuesday morning in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx to provide a base coating along the walls, which will soon be decorated with a colorful mural. The crew also included participants from Ladders for Leaders, a high school internship program sponsored by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. E&Y hires four interns from the program each summer.

Decorative stones and turrets still line the walls that they painted. Originally settled by the Morris family in 1679, the land that became Claremont Park was partially purchased by the City in 1888. A public playground was established on the grounds by NY4P (then called the Parks and Playground Association) in 1914. A private mansion, built in 1859, remained on the park's northern edge until it was razed in 1938. All that remains are its walls, which will soon help tell the story of the park’s rich history.

Con Edison Joins NY4P for Spring Cleanup & Planting in Morningside Park

June 2, 2012

Rain fell overnight into the early morning of Saturday, June 2, but the sun was shining for NY4P’s mid-morning cleanup and planting in Morningside Park – perfect conditions for planting and weeding in the still-damp soil.
We were joined by 15 volunteers from Daffodil Project sponsor Con Edison and Friends of Morningside Park, along with Parks Department Supervisor Joe Spano and several maintenance workers from Parks.
Friends of Morningside Park head Brad Taylor began the day by sharing the history of the park, which opened in 1895 and was the final green space designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
Then we dug in, weeding a hillside in the park’s southwest corner. By 1pm, with Joe's guidance, eight new dogwood and mulberry trees were planted along the hillside.
Thanks to Con Edison, the Parks Department and Friends of Morningside Park for a successful morning.

In Ceremony, NY4P Announces 9/11 Tribute Partnership with Bay Ridge School 

May 16, 2012

If there was ever a moment that underscored the importance of the Daffodil Project as a living memorial to 9/11, the May 16 dedication ceremony at William McKinley IS 259 was it.

An overflow crowd of firefighters, police officers and military personnel gathered in a courtyard at the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn school to honor a student memorial mural that runs along a third-floor hallway of the school. NY4P Executive Director Holly Leicht announced a partnership with the school through the Daffodil Project, which NY4P began in 2001 as a tribute to September 11 and, with almost 5 million free daffodil bulbs planted citywide, has grown into the largest volunteer effort in the city’s history. 

The Tribute WTC Visitor Center honored McKinley teachers Thomas Buxton and Roma Karas in February for their 9/11 awareness curriculum, which has inspired 12- and 13-year-old students to create the nearly 700-foot mural and more than 600 original poems over the past six years in remembrance of the attacks. 

“The students at McKinley have led an inspired effort to learn about, understand and memorialize the tragic events of 9/11,” Leicht said. "We’re honored that they’ve invited us to join them this fall to plant more than 3,000 bulbs on their school grounds – one for every life lost that day – which will bloom each spring as a sign of renewal and remembrance.”

NY4P Teams with Friends of Brower Park, Ernst & Young for Cleanup

April 27, 2012

Friends of Brower Park founding member Phil Hawkins and 12 volunteers from Ernst & Young joined NY4P on April 27 for a cleanup event in the Crown Heights Park, which followed our Daffodil Project planting there last fall. Brower Park is one of the most popular parks in a district with few such spaces. District 36 ranked 41st of 51 City Council districts in our 2009 District Profile in terms of parkland acres per resident, and 43rd in terms of park and playground acres per child.

Armed with fresh cans of Central Park Green paint we began by painting a retaining wall surrounding two basketball courts, and then picked up trash around the park’s perimeter. With time remaining and our scheduled tasks finished, we were also able to paint the eastern perimeter wall of the park, along Kingston Avenue.

“The involvement  of the volunteers was so beneficial to the community at large and helped in our mission to promote beautification and community within our park,” Hawkins said. “Volunteerism plays such a vital role in helping us reach our goals – especially now with staff cuts in the Parks Department.  We appreciate our partnership with New Yorkers for Parks and look forward to many future ventures.”

NY4P Honors Daffodil Project Participants

April 26, 2012

New Yorkers for Parks honored seven New Yorkers for their participation and leadership in the Daffodil Project, NY4P’s annual citywide volunteer beautification program, at our annual Daffodil Breakfast at Bryant Park Grill in Manhattan on April 26.
"Today’s breakfast, like the project itself, is really all about our volunteers," NY4P Executive Director Holly Leicht told the crowd of more than 160. "This spring, almost 5 million daffodils – planted over ten years by students, civic groups, church congregations, community gardeners, nursing home residents and thousands of other New Yorkers - bloomed in just about every neighborhood across the city.  Without our dedicated volunteers, there would be no Daffodil Project.  It is quite literally the sum of thousands of local community projects that add up to the largest volunteer effort in the city’s history."

“Daffodils are a renowned symbol of hope, inspiration and renewal, and they represent the city’s rebirth in the decade since 9/11. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with New Yorkers for Parks and thousands of volunteers to add millions of daffodils to our city’s horticultural fabric," Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe told the audience.

Also in attendance were Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz – who regaled the audience with William Wordworth's "Daffodils" (watch a video of that reading here) – New York City Councilmembers Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. and Gale A. Brewer, and former NYC Parks & Recreation Commissioner Henry J. Stern.  

NY4P recognized the following volunteers and organizations at the breakfast:

Brooklyn: Maria Roca, Friends of Sunset Park

Queens: Ina Brennan, Two Coves Community Garden

Bronx: Evelyn Davila, Bronxwood Home for the Aged   

Staten Island: Ron Brown, Silver Lake Reservoir Dogs

Manhattan: Partnership Award to the West 55th Street Block Association &
                                 Friends of the High School for Environmental Studies

       Lynden B. Miller Citywide Daffodil Award: Penny Harvest: A Program of Common Cents  

Congratulations to all of this year's winners!