Association for Vertical Farming: Munich, Germany
Stephen Ritz is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning educator, author of best-selling book, The Power Of A Plant and Founder of Green Bronx Machine. Known as America’s favorite teacher and 2015 Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Stephen is responsible for creating the first edible classroom in the world. His TED talk boasts more than 1 million views, ranks in the Top 10 Food/Education TED Talks of all time, and is used for teacher training/workforce development globally. Stephen is now appearing in the new PBS educational series Let’s Learn with Mister Ritz.
Green Bronx Machine was born via collaboration between life-long educator Stephen and his students. Originally an after-school, alternative program for high school students, Green Bronx Machine has evolved into a K-12+ model fully integrated into the core curriculum, focusing on educating and training kids for the future, while providing sustainable and healthy food to the community.
Stephen Ritz and his students have grown more than 165,000 pounds of vegetables in the South Bronx, were celebrated at the Obama White House three times, have been featured on the cover of TIME for KIDS, and are the subject of a new, full-feature documentary, Generation Growth. A replica of his classroom was installed in the US Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC and his curriculum is being used in hundreds of schools across the United States, and internationally from Colombia to Dubai, from Canada to Cairo, to Doha, and beyond.
“We at AVF are privileged to have Stephen join the AVF Board and are thrilled to partner with him on a number of significant planned projects,” said Prof. Joel Cuello, AVF Vice Chair and Professor of Biosystems Engineering at The University of Arizona. “Stephen clearly shines a light on and strengthens the social and community-building dimensions of vertical farming through education and outreach with children and young people, which is absolutely crucial in truly fostering the society-wide understanding, appreciation and championing of the vertical farming industry not only for today but well into the future with the succeeding generations,” he added. “Stephen is uniquely qualified and well-positioned to help achieve such critical goals one locality at a time and on a global scale,” he concluded.
Says Stephen Ritz: “Green Bronx Machine is all about harvesting minds and cultivating hope: we’re seed spreaders and peace promoters and I, along with my students and community are thrilled and honored to join this group of global change-makers, innovators, and sustainability champions. From the Bronx to the world, we’re determined to make epic happen and grow something greater! This inclusive partnership represents a virtuous cycle that inspires healthy living, healthy learning and supports the next generation of consumers and farmers that are committed to people friendly and planet beneficial practices. Together, we are determined to build healthy communities and to feed and save our world!”
AVF’s mission focuses on international exchange, cooperation, and education to accelerate the development of the indoor/vertical farming industry. Recognizing the need to educate the public, our governments, consumers and businesses on the vital need for sustainable food systems, a partnership with a renown non-profit such as Green Bronx Machine was a natural alignment to further our goals to establish an international educational standard curriculum to educate the workforce and consumers of the future.
AVF Co-Founder and Chairwoman Christine Zimmerman-Loessl strongly believes this strategic partnership will reap global benefits and create a whole new level of access, awareness, and impact for all stakeholders:
“Through this partnership between Stephen and the AVF’s global network, we are excited to bring educational resources worldwide, to kids and parents alike, on the importance of sustainable food systems and the nutrition benefits of indoor agriculture. This partnership will bring about an unparalleled effort to educate the public and consumers on vertical farming and all it has to offer in the collective effort to lessen the effects of the climate crisis on perpetuating food insecurity.”