Our mission is to grow a diversity of blooms, herbs and native species that provide a palette of seasonal color and texture. Flowers are not only beautiful, but are vital to the well-being of all living things since they provide nourishment and habitat for our important pollinator species like hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and, our favorite, the damselflies, to name just a few.
We are committed to regenerative agriculture and the strong community it helps build.
Denise is a first generation farmer with roots in education and urban farming who believes that flowers are good for the soul. She is a compulsive seed saver and appreciator of windowsill experiments in propagation thanks to her mom. As a child, Denise was fortunate to grow up in an out-of-the-way corner of NYC, surrounded by 1000 acres of new growth forest. The woods were her playground, and it held hints of its past life as a dairy farm. There were large stands of beech trees, ferns and babbling brooks to explore, along with long-abandoned farm equipment and rusty trucks. Denise’s father is a tree hugger although he may not admit this. She knows the truth. Both of her parents instilled an appreciation for the natural world from a very young age. In their home there were always flowers in bloom, tales of plant swaps with neighbors, garden visits and the joys of the changing seasons in the forest, beginning with the dense carpet of May Flowers in spring, to the blooms of wild Turkish Caps in summer. She was hooked on natural beauty, but it would take some time before she truly got her hands in the dirt.
Thanks to the exceptional teachers at Manhattan’s PS3 – The Charrette School and to her daughter, Denise made the leap into growing, and in 2010 left her corporate job in marketing to teach elementary school students how to grow their own food. This led to a land search, an introduction to The Battery Conservancy, and ultimately the launch of Battery Urban Farm in lower Manhattan. As a founding educator for this new community farm, Denise had the privilege to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers with children on the front lawn of NYC, just 300 feet from the original farm that sustained the first Dutch settlers. This led to gaining more field experience working on farms in Columbia County, NY. Serendipitous events led to designing and managing the community roof top garden at Manhattan’s Starrett-Lehigh Building in 2016, and attending Hawthorne Valley’s Farm Beginnings program in 2017.
Damsel Garden was launched in 2017 and set its permanent roots at Farm at The Landing in Stuyvesant, NY later that fall. The first year was spent beating back weeds with family and friends, improving infrastructure and learning more than she thought possible. She is stoked to have beautiful land to grow on, care for, and share with other farmers who are ecologically minded.
Julie grew up among the forests, fields, hills, and streams of Red Rock in Columbia County, NY. Over the years, her love of nature grew into a love of teaching others about the natural world. In cities, summer camps, town parks, state forests, and wilderness, Julie taught outdoor education programs for several years in various places in New York State.
After a time, Julie realized that the most intimate way to connect with nature is to eat it (and live as close to it as possible)! In Maine, Colorado, and New York, her own connection to nature further developed by living close to the land in ways she couldn’t have imagined—grinding wheat berries to make flour for homemade bread and splitting the firewood that would be burned to bake it—tending a tall, rainbow-colored patch of quinoa against a backdrop of snow covered peaks—milking goats and making fresh goat cheese—and enjoying countless meals outside, on the land the ingredients were grown, with friends that helped grow them. She felt more healthy, awake, and alive than she had ever been, and she felt compelled to share experiences like these with others.
For six growing seasons, Julie served as the Education Director and Garden Manager for The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook. There, she developed and taught farm-based food literacy education programs to hundreds of children and their families and managed a half-acre children’s learning garden that grew over 200 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and edible and ornamental flowers.
Julie has her Permaculture Design Certification and is also a writer, and soon to be published author of The Little Gardener: Cultivating Nature’s Keeper.A longtime lover of food, flowers, trees, and the earth that grows them, Julie aspires to live as an active member of the ecological systems that sustain her, and to craft learning experiences where young people have the opportunity to do the same.She’s excited to be the newest member of the team at Damsel Gardens and newest resident of The Farm at the Landing!
Harnessing the Power of Soil Biology
Soil health is something we care a lot about so we keep our tilling to a minimum allowing microorganisms to flourish because we believe healthy soil is linked to healthy, more nutritious food. There is no spraying of pesticides or herbicides on our crops or flowers. We are a toxin free farm. Nature is the best teacher so we will mimic her by continuing to build up soil health and biodiversity as we grow more flowers and healthy food for our local community and beyond.
Damsel Garden’s serendipitous array of projects all stem from a love for growing flowers responsibly.
New York, NY