Samuel S. T. Pressman – Sustainable Environmental Systems Alum

Samuel S. T. Pressman (he/him)

Graduating Class – December 2019
Current Employment – Self-Employed / Food Systems Designer + Builder & Educator for Homegrow & Samuel’s Food Gardens
Speciality – Food Growing Educator & Systems Innovator, Social Worker & Engager, Green Infrastructure Designer (background in horticulture/forestry)
LinkedIn | Co-founder of Homegrow | Co-founder of Micro Food Hub
What goals do you have in the next five years for either yourself or for your company/field?
In the next five years I hope to work with my team to build up Homegrow to become an established and sought-after organization that can design+build+deliver year-round food growing gardens/systems to schools and community spaces. I also hope  to be able to stabilize financially through this work we do in underserved communities and under-resourced schools.
What was your most important work or project that you completed at Pratt that you feel showcases your skillset? 
“Money Does Grow on Trees” was my SES thesis. In the project I explored the environmental and social reasoning behind the vital need to permanently protect existing community gardens in NYC (and cities throughout the world) from real estate takeover. The thesis explains aspects of symbiotic interconnections human communities have with nature, ecological communities, and how life cycles of the planet are impacted by conventional systems and built infrastructure. I also make a call for the creation of a digital platform and database for NYC community gardens (nothing like this exists). They each may be given a valuation and impact profile, which, beyond giving them a platform to connect and communicate with other gardens, showcases the various types of values coming from the ecology and types of natural services happening in the given garden (quantified through ecosystem services field measuring strategies I researched and studied about). Ecosystem services provide services that can be seen as having dollar value when you compare the scales of those services with the same services being provided by built systems in the city (for example the money required to filter 100 gallons  of water runoff through the city filtration plant vs. runoff being filtered naturally by garden soil). Finally, this project was in collaboration with EarthJustice environmental law firm, NYC Community Garden Coalition, and GAIA Technologies for the purpose of generating a legal petition calling for permanent protection of some 60 NYC community gardens that we interviewed and studied. The petition was completed in fall 2020 and submitted to NYSDEC, NYC Mayors Office of Sustainability, DEP, and other entities.
What is something/a skill you learned at Pratt that you feel prepared you for your current position? 
I learned many strategies for how to create connections with organizations and city entities/departments which has helped me to generate proper channels for resources, funding, and aid. I am aiming to use these relationships to create permanent gardens with various communities and groups in the city and beyond (Homegrow is also working to develop a network and is designing/building food systems for schools in Iceland).
What advice would you give to students that have recently graduated or are preparing to graduate?
The more you are able to physically present yourself at the locations/spaces where you have interest in making connections with, the more productive you will be. Successful community impact initiatives rely on a good social network and communications foundation. When I do a community project, I am always eager to first find out as much as I can about what the REAL needs, challenges, and desires are in that given community or block.
After six intense hours of studio work, what is your favorite spot to go near Pratt? 
Taking a nap in the garden area.