Going Green-Wood: Manhattan students travel to Brooklyn cemetery to study under horticulture director

Future farmers: Ninth graders Samantha and Nadia sharpened their gardening skills at Green-Wood Cemetery on May 30.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Now that’s a field trip!

A group of about 100 Manhattan high school students gathered in Brooklyn biggest necropolis to study gardening under the graveyard’s chief horticulturalist, who taught the kids there’s more to Green-Wood Cemetery than headstones and mausoleums.

“We presented Green-Wood as an arboretum — and an active cemetery,” said Joseph Charap, director of horticulture at Green-Wood Cemetery. “The breadth of horticulture here shows the opportunities in the field of horticulture, and the beauty of the plants at Green-Wood itself.”

The students from Stephen T. Mather Building Arts & Craftsmanship High School traveled all the way to Brooklyn to join the graveyard’s green thumb for a lesson landscaping, which included instructions on planting shrubs, weeding out unwanted greens, and identifying some of the 723 tree species in residence at the cemetery.

Seeing green: Kids at Mather High School in Manhattan traveled to Green-Wood to study horticulture under the cemetery’s chief green thumb.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

The kids also pitched in to help Charap and his gardeners with an ongoing project to beautify the cemetery’s legendary Battle Hill — an important site in the Battle of Brooklyn, and the highest natural point in the borough — where the students planted more than 10,000 hay-scented fern plugs on the slope leading down the graveyard’s historic chapel.

“They did a terrific job,” said Charap. “They showed a real curiosity about Green-Wood as a public garden and green space.”

Charap said he looks forward to hosting additional horticultural events for kids in the future, saying Green-Wood is the perfect place to get your hands dirty in a city that doesn’t offer too many opportunities to garden.

“Most people who live in New York City don’t have much of an opportunity to have a hands on experience like they had on Thursday,” said Charap. “”It’s a rare experience wherever you are in New York and one that has a real impact.”

Mr. Green: Director of Horticulture at Green-Wood Cemetery Joe Charap instructed kids on the fundamentals of gardening at the graveyard last week.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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