Council on the Environment, Inc.

Helping New Yorkers Flourish

aka GrowNYC   |   New York, NY   |


Founded in 1970, GrowNYC is one of the largest and most established environmental organizations in NYC - helping more than 3 million New Yorkers by providing essential services and taking action to make NYC a truly livable city, one where every perscan can enjoy a healthier, more sustainable life.

Ruling year info


President / CEO

Mr. Marcel Van Ooyen

Main address

PO Box 2327

New York, NY 10272 USA

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NTEE code info

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

Garden Club, Horticultural Programs (C42)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The environmental challenges facing our city are vast. GrowNYC's programs focus on issues of: open space, waste reduction, food access and farmland preservation, resource conservation and protection and creating the next generation of environmental stewards. One of the main challenges our city faces is that individuals often lack the tools and services they need to improve quality of life for themselves and for their neighbors.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


Greenmarket, the largest open-air farmers’ market program in the country, connects local farmers with city residents by providing fresh healthy produce to all five boroughs. 50+ market locations allow New Yorkers to purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy and many other local products straight from regional farmers. Greenmarkets are community hubs where residents can connect with one another, recycle, compost, participate in free education or cooking demos and more. Greenmarket initiatives include: Youthmarket, FARMroots, Greenmarket Co. and the Fresh Food Box program.

Population(s) Served

Our Zero Waste Programs focus on waste prevention, expanding residential composting opportunities, and increasing recycling diversion rates through public education. Working in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, staff identify challenges to recycling in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs and work to address those needs with workshops for tenants and supers, community events and special collections. Free resources include textile recycling, food scrap drop-offs at Greenmarkets, Stop ‘N’ Swap® events, and more.

Population(s) Served

Community Gardens: GrowNYC has built 100 community gardens across the City, transforming vacant land into vibrant civic spaces that challenge communities to interact with each other. We build new gardens each year and give substantial assistance to hundreds of gardens each year via: workshops, volunteer days, advice, and our annual plant sale.

School Gardens: Grow to Learn NYC: NYC’s School Gardens Initiative, a partnership between GrowNYC, NYC Parks Department and the NYC Department of Education, is committed to growing a sustainable garden at every NYC public school. We currently support a network of 735 schools to grow gardens that are vibrant learning spaces and sustainable resources for the school community. Grow to Learn provides mini-grant funding, free materials, and ongoing technical support and professional development for school gardeners citywide.

Population(s) Served

GrowNYC education staff engages 66,000 students and adults in all five boroughs, working on issues ranging from recycling to habitat restoration to nutrition and gardening. GrowNYC’s education programs empower the next generation of stewards: Governors Island Teaching Garden, Learn It Grow It Eat It, Recycling Champions, Seed to Plate and Greenmarket Community Education.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Seniors, Young adults, Children, Preteens, Ethnic and racial groups

Related Program


Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our overall goal is to help New Yorkers flourish. We do this by providing essential services and take action to make NYC a truly livable city, one where every person can enjoy a healthier, more sustainable life.

In order to accomplish our goal, we pair education with action for any New Yorker who is interested (currently some 3,000,000 New Yorkers take advantage of our programs and services). That means anyone who participates in our programs can learn about environmental issues and THEN utilize opportunities we provide to take sustainable actions.

• Creating Food Access and Preserving Farmland: We will operate our network of 80+ Greenmarkets, Farmstands, and Fresh Food Box sites, as well as GrowNYC Wholesale, ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, local food, reducing food miles and preserving ensure thousands of acres of farmland.

• Encouraging Waste Reduction and Conserving Resources: We will blanket the five boroughs with resources like textile and food scrap collection to make waste reduction easy for all.

• Creating Open Space and Beautifying Neighborhoods: We will build new community gardens, renovate existing green spaces, and support hundreds of existing community and school gardens with: volunteer days, garden builds, horticulture workshops, mini-grants for schools, teacher training, and our wholesale plant sale.

• Hands-on Environmental Education: We will foster future environmental stewards by providing thousands of children each year with in-person and virtual programs that provide for many their first meaningful interaction with the natural environment, from field trips to our teaching garden on Governors Island to food justice internships for teens and young adults.

We bring to every project nearly 5 decades of experience. GrowNYC builds sustainability into all our programs and projects – it is a core principle for the organization. We believe that providing programming, amenities and assistance is always done in partnership with others: neighborhoods, community groups, fellow nonprofits, individuals, schools, city agencies, etc. When we commit resources granted by funders, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we invest in projects that are optimized for success and longevity. Therefore, we have developed metrics/success determinants that allow us to evaluate whether all necessary elements are in place before deploying resources to a project e.g. community garden assistance requires that the garden have land permanency, a committed cadre of members, public open hours, a set of agreed upon rules/standards for use, etc. Additionally, GrowNYC is not a ‘cut and run’ organization; we are available for our constituents and partners to answer questions, troubleshoot and provide additional resources e.g. we run regular grant writing workshops for our school gardeners so that they are equipped to seek and raise funds beyond the assistance we provide. GrowNYC embodies the ‘teach a man to fish’ ethos so that community projects have staying power and community members are empowered to steward those projects. We are proud that for nearly a half century, the vast majority of our program sites i.e. Greenmarkets, community gardens, school partners, etc. endure and withstand the test of time as they have become woven into neighborhoods as well loved and needed community hubs.

GrowNYC is and will continue to grow as a resource for any New Yorker who wants to lower their environmental impact by taking advantage of tools, services and information to inform choices and action.
GrowNYC operated the first modern day farmers market in NYC starting in 1978 and now is proud to manage the largest outdoor farmers market program in the U.S. Beyond our 50 vibrant hubs, we are improving food access and health via: Youthmarket (teen run farm stands), Fresh Food Box (think CSA without the commitment) and Greenmarket Co. a distribution project that gets food in wholesale quantities to restaurants, food rescue organizations, bodegas and more. Our gardening program was at the forefront of the movement in New York and was founded by Richard Abrons and Liz Christy—considered the founder of the community gardens movement—to transform vacant lots into communal green spaces and our rainwater harvesting program collects one million gallons of water annually. We have worked with residents to build 100+ gardens and each year we help hundreds more through our wholesale plant sales, volunteer days, green infrastructure builds, plant material donations, and renovations. Our education programs reach 70,000 NYC youth annually, many of whom have gone on to pursue environmental careers.

The groundwork has been laid and we've made great progress over the past 50 years – in the future we'd like to grow our presence in the minds and practices of all new Yorkers and nonprofits – who can look to us as a partner and as a go-to source for what they might need. We hope to weave sustainability into every component of city life so that being green is second nature. In order to strengthen our efforts even more, we hope to continue to build on key partnerships, e.g. the NYC Park's Department, the botanical gardens and other citywide groups that can help leverage resources, staff and funding.


Council on the Environment, Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Council on the Environment, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Robert Kafin


Stella Strombolis


Steven Salsberg

Global Access Advisors

Sonia Toledo

Frasca & Associates LLC

Robert Kafin

Proskauer Rose

Jordan Barowitz

The Durst Organization

Charlene Balfour

JP Morgan and Chase

Mary Bassett

NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Arline Bronzaft

Wellington Chen

Chinatown Partnership

Victoria Contino

Retired, Wilson Elser

Bret Csencsitz

Gotham Bar and Grill

Jacqueline Dryfoos


Nancy Elder


Christopher Elliman

Open Space Institute

Everard Findlay


Kathryn Garcia

NYC Department of Sanitation

Marian Heiskell

Mark Izeman


Anita Kuwatra

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

Anjali Kumar


John Lyons


Liz Neumark

Great Performances

Lys Pike

former GrowNYC Executive Director

Charles Ramat

Bethel Farms LLC

Frances Resheske

Con Edison

Barbara Samuelson

Merrill Lynch

Axel Santiago


Vincent Sapienza

NYC Department of Environmental Protection

Lea Savoji

Capital One

Nick Scharlatt

Foothold Technology

Eugene Schneur

Omni NY

Johan Segergren


Mitchell Silver

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Marianne Spraggins

The BondFactory Company

David Tisch

LSV Advisors

Polly Trottenberg

NYC Department of Transportation

Barbara Turk

NYC Food Policy Office

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/1/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data