We Grow Vegetables… and Students!
One student at a time, one classroom at a time, one school at a time.
top 10 health and wellness programs in the US
top 100 education innovation programs in the World
Green Bronx Machine builds healthy, equitable, and resilient communities through inspired education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development.
Dedicated to cultivating minds and harvesting hope, our school-based model using urban agriculture aligned to key school performance indicators grows healthy students and healthy schools to transform communities that are fragmented and marginalized into neighborhoods that are inclusive and thriving.
We believe that healthy students help drive healthy schools, and that healthy schools are at the heart of healthy communities.
We envision growing healthy communities where those who are “apart from” will become “part of” new solutions that benefit 100% of society; a world where people do not have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one.
Together, we can grow something greater! Ready, set, GROW!
We are proud to be debuting partnerships with some of the world’s most-recognized companies and organizations, including a full-service school model that can easily be replicated. Our plans also include adding program staff, expanding our geographic footprint and communities we serve while continuing to scale our organization. We are ready and hard at work, each and every day. All of this happens because of support from people like you!
Your Donations at Work
Green Bronx Machine is an impact driven, for-purpose organization with 501(c)(3) status rooted in the belief that we are all Amer-I-Cans! Green Bronx Machine was born via collaboration between life-long educator Stephen Ritz and his students who observed that as waistlines expanded, engagement and opportunities in school decreased, school performance suffered, and hope and ambition became minimized. Originally an after-school, alternative program for high school students, Green Bronx Machine has evolved into K-12+ model fully integrated into core curriculum. Our students grow, eat and love their vegetables en route to spectacular academic performance. Over 165,000 pounds of vegetables later, our favorite crops include healthy students, high performing schools, graduates, registered voters, living wage jobs and members of the middle class. Our work, vision and mission are as organic and locally grown as it gets – straight from our classroom to our community.
2022-2023 School Year
2023 was a year of RELENTLESS GROWTH for Green Bronx Machine. We brought our programming to more than 100 new schools across the US while expanding partnerships with Affinity, Bayer, ConEdison, and the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation. In the Bronx, we hosted school districts and corporations from around the world at our National Health, Wellness and Learning Center and at our Yankee Stadium Farm. And, with the help of Google, Restaurant Associates, and Compass Group, we held our sold-out inaugural Grow Something Greater Gala, featuring Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks. Overseas, we provided 1,000 gardens to schools in Italy and launched signature programs throughout Europe. We debuted our second season of Let’s Learn with Mister Ritz, and shared videos of our celebrations with more than 1M viewers. Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks included Green Bronx Machine in their heralded Food Education Roadmap. Our students and teachers were named NYC Food Heroes by Mayor Adams, who declared Oct 9, 2023, as Green Bronx Machine Day across NYC. Our work was featured at COP 28 and Dubai International Food Safety Conference. Our students and founder received a standing ovation at the World Business Forum at Lincoln Center.
2021-2022 School Year
2022 was an absolute breakout year for Green Bronx Machine. We opened 100 new school programs across the United States, retrofitted and updated the National Health, Wellness, and Learning Center, and, with help from Con Edison, renovated and re-opened our school garden. In partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we launched Green Bronx Machine in A Box, resulting in the strongest academic achievement and behavioral changes to date. We debuted a new documentary short, sponsored by Food Inspiration Lab and Google, starring NYC Mayor Eric Adams, who named Green Bronx Machine students as New York City’s first Youth Food Ambassadors. We built a Tower Garden Farm at Yankee Stadium, committed to build indoor farms and training kitchens in NYCHA public housing, and released new episodes of Let’s Learn with Mister Ritz and Tower to Table to Tummy. And the world noticed! We won our second Classy Social Innovation Award, an unprecedented six gold Anthem Awards, and won the 2022 Best in Bronx Award, capturing more votes than all other categories combined. Our Executive Director, Lizette Ritz, was named a Bronx Power Woman and our Founder was named to NYC Mayor Adams’ Food Transition Team and named Best Teacher in the Bronx. As always, nobody went hungry on our shift and we were proud to debut our Hummus in the Hood Campaign.More
Stephen’s program is sustainable because he has brought in all the stakeholders, (teachers, parents, administrators, and students) and uses state accredited curriculum. By using food and plant life cycles to teach other subjects he incorporates health, wellbeing, and the environment around them with positive steps to academic success. One big take away when observing children interacting in this program is that it is not at all about the instructors, it is about the children, creating their own environment and solutions. It is creating this sense of wonder for children to explore and discover. It encourages discovery and critical thinking – skills that can be used in any aspect of life.
– Dr. Katie Wilson, USDA, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
In a word, Stephen is amazing! He brings a unique passion, perspective and punch to any room. While the specific content around STEM & Sustainability is impressive, as are the transformational results… the broader message of teamwork and impact is applicable for any audience. Stephen is able to captivate an audience from the second he starts speaking — his enthusiasm ripping through a crowd like wildfire — and by the end of his talk he had the entire crowd on their feet! Literally, he is the only person I know to receive two standing ovations in one talk. Stephen is a sure bet to engage with any group and leave them inspired, captivated, and wanting more!
– Zeev Klein, General Partner, Landmark Ventures; Founder & Curator, Social Innovation Summit
“At the three TEDxManhattan events Steve Ritz spoke at, he consistently brought the house down and received rousing standing ovations. His energy, passion, enthusiasm and love for his work as well as the children and residents of the South Bronx is beyond inspiring. He is a beacon of hope for many and a role model for us all.”
– Diane Hatz, Founder & Executive Director, Change Food; Founder/Licensee/Organizer, TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” (2010 – 2015)
“…most people talk about making healthy changes in their diet and lifestyle; Stephen Ritz embodies these changes every day, personally and for “his kids”, locally for his neighborhood and even globally. Stephen is an inspiration to us all to take responsibility to make personal changes and to make our world a better place…one seed at a time. He is truly a wonderful speaker and presenter.”
– Steven G. Ullmann, PhD. Professor and Chair, Department, Health Sector Management and Policy, University of Miami School of Business Administration, Coral Gables, Florida
“Stephen Ritz personifies inspiration. In the face of adversity most people wilt – not Stephen – he turned despair into opportunity and introduced a school and a community to possibility. His words of motivation translate well beyond the South Bronx children he has thought for three decades. He is a spokesperson for the how purposeful agenda can transform any organization and solve any problem.”
– Mitch Roschelle
Partner and Practice Leader PwC
Trustee PwC Charitable Foundation
“You are such a rock star. Hundreds of people from GreenBiz Forum have been talking about you this week, and glowingly. Thank you for inspiring them.”
– Joel Makower | Chairman and Executive Editor
GreenBiz Group Inc. | Oakland, California USA
We love to hear from friends. Odds are we are with our students at this very moment, but would love to start a conversation when we are able. We look forward to hearing from you and promise to get back to you just as soon as we get our heads out of the lettuce.
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