Stephen Ritz - Green Bronx Machine

The Power of a Plant: A Teacher's Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools

  • During this interview Stephen shares his remarkable journey to transform himself, his students, and his community using fresh food.

  • Stephen gives us a virtual tour of his learning center complete with tower gardens, exercice bikes, and a test kitchen.

  • Check out Stephen's New Book: The Power of A Plant

Interview Summary, Recommendations, and Insights:

  • Stephen lothes the term ‘food desert’ he prefers ‘food swamp’ because the food available is unhealthy.

  • Bringing nutritious food to the place where people live.

  • Stephen shares how he has changed people and himself by growing food. [3:30]

  • Targeted attendance in his school has gone from 40%-93% as well as significant boosts in test scores, job placement, and graduation rates.

  • Check out Steven’s new book, The Power of a Plant for a step by step guide for how to use urban farming to transform yourself and your community.

  • Stephen shares his story and how he got started growing food (this is a great story). [8:20]

  • Urban agriculture provides living wage jobs

  • Stephen gives us a tour of his interactive learning classroom [13:30-]

  • It’s easier to raise healthy children than to fix broken men.

  • “We’ve got 99 problems in the South Bronx but growing fresh food ain’t 1, yo.”

  • Students can generate their own electricity using bikes in the classroom. [18:30]

  • “This system is a whole lot less stick and a whole lot more carrot! What’s up doc?!?”

  • Sustainability shouldn’t be the end goal. Think about it like being married. If someone told you that your marriage would be sustainable, that’d be depressing. Steven is advocating restoration, and regeneration.

  • It’s about getting out there, seizing opportunities, and trying to do something. Steven advocates being relentlessly entrepreneurial. [22:30]

  • Stephen shares some of his favorite tools for doing something. [24:30]

  • “Technology isn’t going to change the world, people will.”

  • How Stephen became such a good public speaker: “Hell has no fury like a room full of 32 kids who don’t give a damn about what you have to say”

  • Stephen discusses opportunities and partnerships he’s looking for -- volunteers, book buyers, and media partners.

  • The greatest untapped human potential in marginalized communities.

  • “How we walk with the wounded says more about who we are than how we sit with the great.”

  • “Eat less meat, drink less beer, buy less stuff.”

  • When I was a child we loved people and used things, now we use people and love things.

  • “Words are real estate.”

Where to follow Steven


Green Bronx Machine

Stephen Ritz


Green Bronx Machine

Stephen Ritz


Green Bronx Machine

Stephen Ritz

Favorite resources for learning urban ag:

1. Blue Planet Consulting

2. The Internet

Call to action from our interview:

Go out there and be a mentor to a child in need. Reach out to a school or a community center somewhere.

Do a random act of kindness and buy Stephen's new book!

About Green Bronx Machine:

Green Bronx Machine is an impact driven organization that believes that the art and science of growing vegetables indoors, also grows healthy students, resilient communities and opportunities for the 21st century. Most of all THEY GROW FOOD. 50,000 lbs of vegetables have been grown in the south bronx.

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