Cultivating Community and Sustainability: Swinerton and GrowNYC

Just beyond the soaring Manhattan skyline lies a single acre plot of farmland on Governors Island known as the GrowNYC Teaching Garden. For the third consecutive year, Swinerton’s New York team spent a calm morning harvesting, weeding, and bundling produce at the site—a stark contrast with the usual bustle and buzz of midtown‘s rush-hour.

Initially founded in 1970 as the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), GrowNYC has been at the forefront of urban agriculture, food access, and environmental education initiatives in New York City for over five decades. The local Swinerton team proudly joins the 3 million New Yorkers participating in GrowNYC’s efforts annually, sowing seeds of positive change across the five boroughs.

A Culture of Giving Back

As a company, Swinerton remains dedicated to sustainable and responsible leadership in the construction industry. Last year, Swinerton donated nearly $1.5 million to nonprofits, and its employees collectively volunteered over 6,200 hours of their time.

When the New York City office opened in 2021, the team established a comprehensive community relations program with Vice President and Division Manager Andrew Pearl, wanting to prioritize an organization that had a direct and lasting impact on the local community. GrowNYC quickly emerged as a top choice for its efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and offer meaningful assistance to people in need.

Swinerton’s continued support of GrowNYC helps facilitate the organization’s important work and gives our local team a fun way to give back while spending time together outside of the office or project sites.

“Helping to build garden boxes in Brooklyn and gardening at the Governors Island facility were really enjoyable and inspiring experiences,” recalls Andrew Pearl. “In Brooklyn, we worked alongside police officers at a NYC Housing Authority building, and it felt very community-oriented. Governors Island was amazing, largely because I had no idea large-scale farms and composting facilities existed in New York City!”

An Emphasis on Education

Many of Swinerton’s nationwide community efforts focus on education, including the ACE Mentorship and The Swinerton Foundation’s Adopt-a-School program. This emphasis perfectly aligns with GrowNYC’s efforts to promote education programs. The nonprofit organization provides 70,000 children each year with various programming on the natural environment, whether through School Gardens, the Teaching Garden at Governors Island, Nutrition Education, or other initiatives.

“Assisting at the Teaching Garden has been such a memorable and meaningful experience for the Swinerton team,” shares Joe Calcagno, Division Safety Manager. “To witness such a large-scale farm operation in the heart of New York City is mind-blowing.”

Administrative Assistant Azrielle Castro adds, “I loved learning about the complex community efforts while lending a helping hand to our local community.”

Outside of the teaching garden, GrowNYC’s Green Space program supports and builds community and urban gardens across the five boroughs. The organization’s conservation initiatives, efforts to significantly increase food access and agriculture proficiency, and educational programming are testaments to its unwavering commitment to build a more sustainable and resilient New York City.

“You can truly see how dedicated the GrowNYC team is to creating hands-on and informative volunteer programs,” says Nicole Zieba, Project Field Administrator. “From supporting local farmers and tackling food insecurity, to educating the community about environmental issues, GrowNYC’s multifaceted programs create a positive impact far beyond the city limits. Swinerton’s New York team is excited to continue to partner with the organization and further its mission.”