Polygreens Podcast

056: Green Bronx Machine

January 07, 2022 Joe Swartz & Nick Greens Season 2 Episode 56
Polygreens Podcast
056: Green Bronx Machine
Show Notes Transcript

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.

More about Stephen Ritz:
Website: https://greenbronxmachine.org/

More about Joe Swartz:
Website: https://amhydro.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HydroConsultant

More about Nick Greens:
Website: https://www.nickgreens.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/InfoGreens

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Polygreens Podcast Episode 56

[00:00:00] Joe Swartz: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of the poly greens podcast. The first one of 20 20, 20, 20 22. Wow. I'm losing my 20 wow. 20, 22. Yeah. Wow. Is right. Um, so, uh, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome. And we figured out we better pull out somebody really. To kick off the new year with could not think of a better person than our brother from another mother, Mr.
Stephen Ritz and the green Bronx machine. How are you? 
[00:00:31] Steven Ritz: Ah, 20, 22, what you're going to do. I'm so happy to be on a podcast with you,
a happy, healthy new year to all of us serious kid. Like the kids would say, Steven, you have. Okay. Bars, bars, 
[00:00:54] Nick Greens: meaning like you can rap. That means you got 
[00:00:56] Steven Ritz: Bob. I thought you meant like bars in front of me. Like, you [00:01:00] know, they really started to actualize. All those warrants 
[00:01:04] Nick Greens: for beats is a 
[00:01:05] Steven Ritz: bar, you know? All right, well, I'll take beats.
I'll take beats. I'll take lettuce. I'll take anything. You guys are growing. I think 
[00:01:15] Joe Swartz: there you go. Well, Steve has been definitely one of the most talked about guests we've had for good reason. Um, my, my personal favorite, um, we, we really enjoyed talking with you. Um, we've had a chance to spend some time together since we, we spent a lot of time at indoor ag con and, um, my gosh, even since then, which is only a few months ago, A whirlwind of activity going on.
So why don't you ever bring everybody up to speed as to what's going on? And Stephen 
[00:01:43] Steven Ritz: Ritz is. Uh, well, you know, it's not so much Stephen Rich's world as just the green Bronx machine world and just, I think people are really catching up. So yeah, indoor ag con was slamming. Great to see you. I'll be there in February.
Could not be [00:02:00] more excited. I am very publicly angling for a keynote speech as opposed to be on a speaker. So, uh, for those of you who are listening, give me the stage. Dammit. I got plenty to say and talk about, and I want to uplift the industry. Um, you know, it's your guys' job to grow the perfect head of lettuce.
It's my job to grow the perfect hedge for that lettuce. And literally since indoor ag. That's exactly what I've been doing. I've been halfway around the world and back literally from the UAE to Egypt, to Bahrain. I saw a farm in Bahrain and I want to give a big ups to, uh, my man Rashid from the Royal family of Bahrain, who in the middle of a day.
Has 15, I think 150,000 square feet of growing space in what might as well be the moon. And what's really fascinating about his approach is well, they put them in the desert for a reason, uh, you know, he's outspoken and they really want to keep them away from the mainstream, but he has had a farm now [00:03:00] for seven years growing tons of leafy greens, sheep, um, organic milk, all kinds of stuff that he's doing out there in the middle of the day.
And it's really inspiring. And in this day of, you know, the latest, greatest innovation and the latest, greatest artificial intelligence and how we can bring AI to farming, what's really fascinating about Rashid is he is built a team, a team who loves him. And loves working with him. And the interesting thing is the only innovation he's interested is not anything that's going to save labor costs, but will make his laborers enjoy the work that they do that much more.
And he believes that happy farmers grow better tasting food. And it's really wild. I mean, it was about 130 degrees out there in Bahrain, but he's up to, so for those of you who are interested in tuning in, you should definitely check out. Peninsula farms in Bahrain, uh, tell Rashid Steve Ritz, even put on a cheese hat said yeah.
And check it out. I think, [00:04:00] you know, and it also, he has a great CSA model. So, you know, he does delivery across the Gulf. Um, you know, so I know it's a little far here in the states, but he is really changing the game on his model. I've been partnering with schools across the UAE and Egypt turns out I'm going to be keynoting expo 2020, this February.
Well, I got assigned. We have a new mayor in New York city, a vegan mayor who has put $20 million of his money, um, previously as Brooklyn borough president into funding, indoor, urban ag. So to think that, you know that we have one of us, one of us at the helm of one of the greatest cities in the world.
Dangerous times, um, is really kind of inspiring. I was proud and honored to be invited, to be named to his food transition team. And you know, it it's the new year and Christmas just came to Appalachian because thanks the Newman zone as. We have a, the first commercial greenhouse in America, that's run by foster care [00:05:00] kids.
That's actually profitable. And we went down and outfitted 10 tiny homes. We've been building these homes for these young people so that they can keep their jobs when they age out. Because statistically an Appalachia 70, within six months of aging out of foster care, 74% of these young men wind up either dead in jail or homeless.
That we can give them a 
[00:05:25] Nick Greens: home so they can 
[00:05:26] Steven Ritz: continue to do a job that they love to do, um, and go to school and get the life skills that they need to transition from foster care into independent living is a blessing. So foster care kids at Christmas came to Appalachia. I'm excited. I'm excited to get back and, you know, write out what's 
[00:05:44] Nick Greens: the name of that program again, Steven, what's the name of that?
[00:05:47] Steven Ritz: Stepping stones. It is stepping stones in Appalachia, and we will be releasing a video, um, probably in the next week or two, which I'll be sure to get to you highlighting what that program looks like. [00:06:00] Newman's own foundation was kind of nice to give us a grant, um, to support the work. And we paid a hundred percent of it forward.
That's how we get down at green Bronx machine to get down there and support these young men because we believe. That is replicable and scalable across the country. And in a system that you know, is counting bodies, counting incarceration rates, you know, we're counting jars and pickles and jobs saved, um, and vegetables consumed.
So it's really wild to think. You know, I always say the answers and this is something we should talk about here within our community, our, our community, you know, we don't need to go outside. I think, you know, the answers come from people who do the work day. Grow daily 
[00:06:39] Nick Greens: sequins daily, see markets daily, sell food daily, turn a profit 
[00:06:45] Steven Ritz: daily.
Those are the people we need to be looking to for the best answers instead of outside sources sometimes. So busy year and of course, green Bronx machine is scaling. Um, thanks to quest diagnostics. We will be going into three new [00:07:00] markets, bringing our curriculum and gardens to schools along with teacher training and professional development.
As always I'm excited. I got a big plate and it's all filled with lots of leafy greens. 
[00:07:14] Joe Swartz: So, uh, doesn't sound like you've been doing a whole heck of a lot, huh. Or at least not. 
[00:07:19] Steven Ritz: And the time with my head up my ass, you know, trying to figure out how to do some, some innovative social media stuff. Um, and, uh, and 
[00:07:27] Nick Greens: off air.
I got some things to talk to you about actually remind me about that. Uh, 
[00:07:33] Steven Ritz: Okay, cool beans. Yeah. 
[00:07:35] Joe Swartz: So, so obviously, so what's going on in the Bronx right now, obviously being involved with, uh, mayor Adam's team that's tremendously. Oh my God. That's such a huge honor and a, uh, a great opportunity. So, so we're very proud of you for that.
And, and, and only good things are gonna come from that school. So you're working with on that. Yeah. You 
[00:07:55] Nick Greens: got it. How many programs are you working in? And New York alone is there's like, there's several different [00:08:00] programs you're 
[00:08:00] Steven Ritz: doing. Got a couple of different things going on, but you know, let me bring it back to Eric.
Um, to think that you have a mayor who, number one is a former policeman who before that was actually beeped by the police. Um, it's kind of a new, you know, New York is really going through changes right now. And I think, you know, it's definitely time for some new leadership emphasis on new and emphasis on leadership.
Bill de Blasio did a great job of many things. So I want to give them credit for installing, you know, three K and what he did do, but also the rhetoric of blaming the rich for everything really. Because the problem is, or the, or for the rich, they have this amazing option. It's called move. They have money.
They can stay in the Hamptons. They can stay in their second and third and fourth home. And right now it is a very, very, very tough time in New York city for working people. Um, [00:09:00] For people who are essential workers for people who are on the frontline of fast food of casual food, of, of the infrastructure that keeps New York city alive and vital daily.
So revving them up and having them point a finger at the rich without really giving us solution doesn't really do well for any of us, because those rich. Out of New York city. They're not buying food, they're not having deliveries. They're not going to local restaurants. They're not getting services in their home that really these people depend upon.
So bringing it back to Eric, Eric is a guy who rose up through the police ranks. I'm excited about his history, the fact that he is a vegan, the fact that he is calling for so many cages in the way we look at school and, and, and the city overall. You know, I think Eric is the guy who gets it, that, you know, for far too long, far too many people have gotten fat off the dysfunction of the city and city agencies has been so much time and [00:10:00] energy pulling people out of the river, so to speak.
Whereas right now, what we really need to do is create systems that prevent people from falling in upstream. That's what, Eric's all about. A guy who puts his money, where his mouth is to the tune of $20 million into public school. For, you know, green education for hydroponics, aeroponics, and urban farming during his tenure at Brooklyn as Brooklyn borough, president needs to be commended.
Um, the fact that he walks the walk is amazing. So I couldn't be more excited about what he sees for calling on a reduction in the consumption of meat and the purchasing of. In local purchasing of all produce for city agencies. That's an exciting time. And, you know, people do around the world, certainly around the country and around the world.
Look to New York city as an exemplar of what can happen. So the fact that he is there paving the way. And so many of us, you know, fall right in line behind him. I was super excited to see one of our local [00:11:00] heroes, Varage, Puri, and got them greens elevated, you know, to his food transition team as well. I mean, look, Verizon's about as local, as local gets in his business was founded over a dinner where he was sitting with a buddy, um, having, you know, good pesto in a fancy restaurant.
And that's where this Bazell company. And the answer was Israel. Uh, and Veronica turned to his friend and partner said, you know, we could probably do something a little close to their home. And the rest is now history. Look at Gotham greens and look at what got them greens and Varage has done for all of us.
The amount of support he gives to schools, to nonprofits, bringing it back to Varage. Did you know, Verizon is local talent. Gotham greens is local talent. You look how they've scaled successfully across the county. Um, without raising tons of VC doing it internally is a model really worth talking about.
And again, you know, Varage, there would be no Steven Richard Green Bronx machine. If there was no Varage, Paraiso, let's be clear. We need to give credit where credit is due, but you know, Gotham greens is supportive, [00:12:00] countless organizations, countless nonprofits, both on the farm side and the feeding people side.
I mean, they are one of the most magnanimous and philanthropic companies that we've come across. And by the way, congratulations on their B Corp status. So I think things are really exciting in New York city are green Bronx machine started a partnership recently with Dannon or our first official food and beverage partner.
We're really excited to be bringing both organic products and plant based products to communities that traditionally don't see either of them. And I think that augments well with what we're doing with kids in class. Whether it's, you know, using almond milk or soy milk or oatmeal and, you know, and augmenting that with fresh fruits and vegetables in smoothies and salads and all kinds of things, it's only going to inspire a healthy living, inspire a healthy learning, and inspire a healthy eating and communities that really need it most.
So I'm super excited, but you might not have known. 
[00:12:58] Joe Swartz: Steven. You've got to pick it up a little [00:13:00] bit. You know, you gotta be a little more enthusiastic 
[00:13:01] Steven Ritz: about what you're talking about. Have just thrilled to be job. Are you guys coming to indoor at gun? Oh yeah, we'll 
[00:13:08] Joe Swartz: be there. 
[00:13:10] Nick Greens: We're on a panel together. They're talking about me, you and some other people being on a panel together.
[00:13:16] Steven Ritz: Well, listen, I would love to do a panel with you guys. That's the truth, uh, you know, to sit on the non-profit panel. Um, to me it's kinda like, um, you know, I think so many, I would like to honestly see a lot of nonprofits go away, quite frankly, not, I'm not pointing my finger at anybody on this proposed panel.
Cause I don't know, but I think, you know, here's the deal with nonprofits and public education, green Bronx machine leads. And being efficient financially, we are a small organization in terms of putting our money where our mouth is, but no nonprofit that serves public education should have salaries that pay more than teachers or principals, [00:14:00] because basically.
Because you're stuck in public education. Dry. What we need right now is a wealth of talent in public schools. The greatest leverage this nation has towards equity is public schools, not nonprofit work and the work that I'm doing and the wonderful work that so many other nonprofits are doing. Shouldn't be the extent of.
It should be the norm. And what we really need to do is embed this work into public education, which Eric Adams gets. And I'm excited. You know, we don't need nonprofits with executive directors making a buck 50 $200,000 a year with. It would make it a hundred, it's much easier to go and grow vegetables in a greenhouse and talk about how we need to get more support for public schools than it is to teach in public schools right now.
So we need to be making sure the best talent is retained in public schools and that, you know, salaries are not more attractive in the nonprofit world than they are in the public education. Otherwise, it becomes a big drain and we need to talk about that. I really [00:15:00] want to see, you know, I don't want to make donations to support social media campaigns and PR campaigns.
I want to make donations that support impact that support feeding people, changing schools, changing pedagogy, and making sure teachers and students have access to every single thing that they need at the lowest possible price point. And Eric gets that. I get that. You want to put me on a battle? I'm happy to talk about that, but I'd really like to talk about the potential of what this industry can do for this nation right now, where, you know, we are still eating ourselves sick.
We are still eating ourselves fat, diseased and disease, and the food shortage and food prices are going up, up, up, up. Um, so, you know, this is an important time for us really, to read, to be reflective. And inflective in the industry. There's a lot of talk about the hype that's going on in our industry, but I, you know, I think, you know, like public enemy said, don't believe the hype, you know, let's really talk facts.
Let's really [00:16:00] talk, impact and get down to what's working and what's not. And move forward from there. 
[00:16:05] Joe Swartz: Amen. Here you covered about 20 podcasts right there in that one. A little, uh, But the, um, so, so to that point, I want to, I want to talk a little bit more about the educational component. So obviously a lot of what you're doing obviously is educating the young people, but you're doing a lot more.
And can you tell us a little bit more about how you're helping to bring up those teachers? Obviously, there's a lot of really great, talented, wonderful people, but obviously like our CA industry, we need more experienced growers. We need to train people to grow and we need to train the growers. And I think that in the educational realm of where you're at right now is there there's a huge need and an opportunity for you to do what you do, which is obviously inspire.
And that's why people have always talked to me about you, but also to educate and to educate the teachers and the educators. So how, what are you doing right now? And how do you [00:17:00] kind of see that your role in, in moving that. 
[00:17:04] Steven Ritz: I mean, the crazy thing, Joe is honestly, and I tell you this, I'll say I sell to you guys this offline.
I am not the best farmer. My wife is a better farmer. My daughter is a better farmer. My students are a better farmer. And quite frankly, our interns, you have access to good information or our farm. Farmers than me. And you know, for, for far too long, we've had this myth, oh, we need to put a farm in every school.
I don't, I don't necessarily believe that. I think the innovative ways to do school as farm, where literally, you know, you don't go from seed to harvest. I say this in our documentary generation growth, you don't go from seed to harvest without cultivation and. So imagine, you know, imagine seeing harvesting a crop of kids who start at a young age and when they graduate, that is the harvest, they are industry ready and really industry ready, whether their growers, whether they're [00:18:00] Packers, whether they're marketers, whether they are, you know, technology.
They really get it. And you know, the other big thing is a lot of nonprofits have gotten really fat by putting these huge commercial installations in schools. I also believe that that's not the way to go. It's hard enough to run a school. It's also hard enough to run a farm. Um, so you put the two of those things together.
You throw in this thing called COVID and I'm gonna cry. That's the recipe for disaster. Um, you know, you see so many of these huge commercial installations in public schools. Public schools don't have the budget right now to support a dedicated grower. So basically those nonprofits have to bring in a dedicated grower.
Those people get good at it really quick. And what do they do? They quit the nonprofit to go to go and work in the private sector as well. They should. So it's a great talking point for the nonprofit. Oh, we put these commercial farming, you know, in poverty stricken, XYZ, zip. But that, that, that commercial farm has [00:19:00] really become a bane of existence on that school and very difficult to staff.
It becomes a great talking point social media, but it really doesn't become a functional thing that consistently feeds people the way it could and should now the flip side. And let me be clear. The flip side is really. Good career technical education schools. I'd love to see schools, career technical education schools that had large greenhouses for 15 to 20 to 30,000 to 40,000, 50,000 square feet as school and students were working in there daily.
And they were understanding everything from the science of plants, to the science of bugs, to the 
[00:19:40] Nick Greens: installation of light, to the testing 
[00:19:42] Steven Ritz: of water, to things that translate. All kinds of jobs across the health and service sector. That's the kind of thing that I want to see, but that requires vision. That requires commitment.
And again, I think it's a perfect time for a guy like Eric Adams to be in the industry and a guy like Verizon, [00:20:00] hurry to be on his team and a guy like me. Who's just dedicated to talking truth. But getting back to your question several thousand deep breaths ago, what am I really doing with. Well, I'm making the art and science of growing vegetables, very applicable to common core next generation science standards.
And what needs to happen in schools from a teaching perspective? I mean, my gig is I love growing vegetables. I love seeing kids eat healthy, but it's, and I'm using that as the smoke and mirrors of good. Of good pedagogy, good sound instruction, or rubrics based instruction in reading, writing, math, science, social studies and technology.
So it's the art and science of growing vegetables alive to close school. Um, the good thing about it is it's happening in schools where kids don't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and we're students who do get access to fresh fruits of that. Loved to eat them and grow them. So it's really kind of cool and more often than [00:21:00] not it's happening in schools, in communities where there's limited means and limited access to healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables.
So these kids are taking this stuff home to their grandparents and their parents, and they're talking about it and we're wrapping it around with other sponsors and support services that make this food more desirable, more accessible. It's not just, you know, the fatter of social media and a brilliant book.
It's really about changing 
[00:21:24] Nick Greens: lives, changing access, cultivating appetites, 
[00:21:27] Steven Ritz: cultivating pallets, and cultivating and understanding because the interesting thing, and one of the things that I'm most proud of with my children, whether they eat better or not, no, almost all of them do these along the way. They become water misers.
They become energy misers. They understand that the water that was running out of those fire hydrants, you know, in the middle of the summer, That's a precious resource. It's also limited. So what happens is we're growing the next generation of environmental and social justice. Equity advocates. And that to me is [00:22:00] game changing people who understand that the communities like mine who suffer the most and have the biggest burdens are also least responsible for it.
But, you know, small incremental changes, wind up making huge differences in lifestyles there. And that's what it's about. And it also makes school more exciting. Um, you know, what we find is that 94%. Students who do our program want to do it again? That's awesome. And a hundred percent of the teachers recommend it to a colleague, which is also awesome.
You want teachers sharing good information and good resources with other teachers. So we're really growing ethicacy in public schools. We're growing awareness around rubric space, the metrics spaced instruction, but we're also growing happy, healthy kids and like eating vegetables. And that's a win for every team.
[00:22:51] Joe Swartz: So we're really like, we're really trying to replicate you and obviously coming from the classroom. And I I'm assuming you [00:23:00] don't spend nearly as much time in the classroom as you'd like, but what you're doing is you're really, you're, you're sowing the seeds. You're laying the foundation for this to become a worldwide movement rather than a, a one man band.
[00:23:13] Steven Ritz: Absolutely. You know, recently I was in Egypt. I can't believe I missed you. I we working with young people who have low largest rooftop garden in school in Egypt and not just one it's across the entire network of Esau education schools, but everywhere. We're seeing people who want to grow their own food.
Um, you know, and it's, you know, Egypt is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been in the world. And to think, you know, what, what has become of the fertile Crescent, what goes on in the fertile Crescent, but what is going on in these rooftops in classrooms, you know, I'm growing the next generation of, of multiple Steve riches, whether they're young teachers or young students who want to be involved in growing food.
I mean, you talk to young people today, [00:24:00] the concern about the environment, global warming and then their own lives. The city, uh, you know, healthcare, they are really worried and they get it that the next best way, the best way to deal with this is to look at food and how we consume food, how we grow food, what we're eating and what we're purchasing.
So we're really growing a generation of conscious consumers. And that to me is just spectacular. Along with teachers really want to make a difference in children who are inspired by it. And it's also a big family thing. Listen, you are in Egypt, you see the intergenerational. The amount of Sage wisdom that those grandparents have, that they want to pass down to these kids particularly now is schools are closed and everybody's at home sheltering in these really phenomenal.
It's just a great opportunity for the industry in the. Yeah. Yeah. 
[00:24:51] Joe Swartz: People didn't know this, that I didn't know. So, uh, in November, uh, we were over in Egypt, we're working on some large scale, uh, food production facilities out there. [00:25:00] And, uh, it wasn't until I got back that I find out that Steven Ray. Was in Egypt at exactly the same time, which just really kills me.
Um, but uh, again, doing his amazing work and there's going to be some great synergies there because basically what we're trying to do is, is help install the tools and the training and the know-how for much higher level food production. And Stephen is basically bringing up the next generations of people to operate these and to develop these and to move the industry.
Farther forward. And again, to go in so many of the different directions that he talked about. So I'm very excited about seeing this. Obviously, we're seeing a lot of this in north America, but seeing this blowing up all over the world and the work that you've done is just absolutely amazing. And, um, and gosh, there's going to be so much 
[00:25:48] Steven Ritz: more done down the road by you to join me.
I'll make sure it happens. I want to bring you out. Let me, there are so many people. You know, I always say that this work and our time together is never about me. [00:26:00] It's always about wheat. What can we, as an industry do, how do we grow this? So very publicly, you know, I'm going to put myself accountable to your millions of listeners.
Joe, I want to invite both you and Nick to join me out in the exempt. I'll make it happen to join me in the UAE. In fact, you know, I'm hoping you can be on my panel. I'm convening a panel for expo 2020. I'd love to have you up on the big screen with me, literally under the dome I'm convening experts from around the world.
Um, because I want to highlight not what 
[00:26:31] Nick Greens: I do, what we do, what this collective 
[00:26:35] Steven Ritz: is capable of and how we need to move forward in concert and in steps. Uh, you know, I want to see the end of silos, so to speak and really bring together. Too. I feel are the most magnanimous and supportive voices in this space to really inspire everybody and to show what.
[00:26:55] Joe Swartz: Absolutely count me in I'm there I'm inspired. 
[00:26:58] Nick Greens: I'm inspired. [00:27:00] 
[00:27:00] Joe Swartz: This is so where are you going to be helping set policy with mayor Adams or are kind of where, what do you see as the best use of your energies in this huge 
[00:27:12] Steven Ritz: in Glendora? You know, and my board of directors has challenged me that tip into that effect as well.
You know, what is the best use of Steven or it's at any given moment? No. My favorite thing of course is being with children and I love being with children, but how do I grow this movement? So you're hitting on a couple of interesting things. When you talk about policy, um, yeah, you're going to see me really advocating for policy, not so much for green Bronx machine, but for policy, for best practices, um, for zoning, for all kinds of law.
Um, you know, recently we were proud to host both the New York state energy commission commissioner, Dr. Betty. And the New York state ag commissioner, Dr. Richard Ball, it's the first time the two of them have ever, we made history in the south Bronx merging education and [00:28:00] agriculture, um, under a school model.
So you're really going to see Steven Ritz move into policy. May there be a political. We'll talk about that when the time is right, but I have 
[00:28:11] Nick Greens: governor, governor, how you doing there? 
[00:28:14] Steven Ritz: That's very ambitious and thank you, Nick, for that, for that nice nod. Um, you know, we'll see where it goes, but watch for that.
And quite frankly, you know, even in terms of my own organization, watch for green Bronx machine to become a student led organization, that's really where all of these nonprofits need to be not being run by. Who are already on a pension from the board of ed and doubling down quite frankly, or, you know, or on a pension from somewhere else, or got tired of the corporate space and couldn't make it there and decided that wow, they could take all this money and make a whole lot of money doing something good because that's not.
That's vacation. I really want to see green Bronx machine become a student led organization. And, you know, I'm proud to say that we've been working with [00:29:00] PricewaterhouseCoopers on a strategic plan that will be bringing green Bronx machine to 20,000 schools across America. Um, that's just such a huge number to fathom, but we're going to do it one child at a time, one classroom at a time, one school at a time.
But you know, my biggest asset, um, aside from my wife of course, is my big. You know, so I'm going to continue to be a truth teller. Um, and I'm going to get out there and really advocate for policy. Of course, I'll advocate for green Bronx machine, but that works should be the norm. It should not be the exception and the best way to make sure my work and our collective work is the norm is by setting policy is by getting young, black and brown people to continue to vote is by training young people to get out there and work and stay out of.
That's what this is about. It's really about empowering the next generation to be on the forefront of change and innovation, you know, for far too long communities like mine, if not only been over under-resourced, they've been over [00:30:00] extracted. So it's time for us to build a set of tools and laws that are going to work for us that are going to help communities like mine.
A lot of it's going to be about zoning, um, and some other things, um, in partnership with, uh, I hope that USDA and some good. Um, on some policies and we'll see. Um, but again, it's also the most 
[00:30:18] Nick Greens: important thing is not to keep echoing 
[00:30:20] Steven Ritz: my voice in the nonprofit poor us chamber, but really is to look at some of the most successful profitable businesses in the industry and say, how do we replicate that success?
And let our students become a part of it and let our communities, you know, emulate that. So that's where it's going in the next five years. 
[00:30:38] Joe Swartz: So anybody that's listening that has a pulse can't help. Incredibly inspired. So obviously Stephens. So the seeds he's watered, he's fertilized. We're seeing a lot, a lot of great things happening, but now the momentum has started.
Now. We've really got to push this ball forward. One, how can people [00:31:00] who are listening, how can they get involved? How can they help and support? And how can they find out more about you and more about what all these amazing things that are going on. 
[00:31:09] Steven Ritz: So, first and 
[00:31:10] Nick Greens: foremost, the number one thing everyone can do 
[00:31:13] Steven Ritz: is shop local.
[00:31:14] Nick Greens: You know, you got to shop every day. So please shop local. Think about when you're in your local 
[00:31:19] Steven Ritz: supermarket or market, given the nod, not to price, but to value. And the value is always supporting local because what do we know? A dollar spent locally trip that dollar travels eight times through our committee.
So, you know, Dodo Lee's thing, price being valued, that's above and beyond me. Um, as for me, I would love for people to get involved with the work of green Bronx machine. And what does that mean? Well, we certainly love your support, but your voice is your support. So yes, of course we depend on philanthropic support.
So I'd love to donate. But talking about the work that we're doing, 
[00:31:55] Nick Greens: sharing the work that 
[00:31:57] Steven Ritz: we're doing, elevating the work that we're doing as a [00:32:00] model, asking for people to do this in their communities, suggesting that a corporation that has CSR dollars to spend, spend them with us in your community. We are delighted to.
Realize the most successful green Bronx machine programs are not only in the Bronx, but they are in, in communities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Appalachia, um, overseas in Canada. So we have 
[00:32:24] Nick Greens: the ability to replicate this. In your community 
[00:32:27] Steven Ritz: and you guys have access to people who want to do that. So connect with us.
Of course, we do do some social media or my favorite these days, quite frankly, is LinkedIn. I find it to be the most professional source of information and networking. Um, so you can always reach out to me or green Bronx machine on LinkedIn. You can reach out to us via any social media you can contact. At Steve had, you know, an info@stevenrich.com or info@greenbronxmachine.com, stephen.rich, the green Bronx machine.com all [00:33:00] roads lead to Rome.
But the most important thing you can do is lead by example, which brings me back to the wonderful new mayor of New York city, Eric Adams, you know, he was the one critical piece of his story is when he was diagnosed with diabetes. And I don't know if you know it, he was fully diabetic. He was blind and. It was morbidly obese.
The doctor suggested to him that he Googled how to live with diabetes and Eric, you know, confronted that and said, I don't want to learn to live with this. I want to learn how to reverse it. So he reversed it by making some substantial changes, small incremental changes in his life that added up to huge incremental.
So, what am I encouraging everyone 
[00:33:41] Nick Greens: to do? Eat a little less meat, eat 
[00:33:44] Steven Ritz: a lot more local, say no to refined sugar, do the right thing and get out there and spend some time with children. No one will go broke, giving love. So, you know, the greatest prognosticator for success for a child is having access to one kind [00:34:00] of caring.
It's my job to be my goal, to be that kind caring adult for as many children as possible. But I'm urging all of your listeners to invest in their back. To cultivate that crop just invest in one person that you can to pass this towards net. So you're giving back so that we are perpetually paying it forward.
That's what my call to action is today. But if you've got a lot of money and you got a big Christmas bonus, please make a donation to green Bronx machine. Please buy my book. Please buy some really cool green Bronx between swag. You're not going to look as cool as Nick Green's does right now with his cool Russian house.
But a green Bronx machine keys that goes a long way for conversation starting. 
[00:34:44] Joe Swartz: Unbelievable. Well, I, I got to say, I mean, you know, you outdid yourself from the last time. Um, everyone please, you know, go check Stephen out. Uh, Stephen ritz.com green Bronx machine. Take a look, please consider, [00:35:00] uh, Johnny in all my years in this business, I have never seen anybody do more to really raise the entire playing field.
Uh, as Steven so-so, please help out in any way you can. And as he 
[00:35:13] Steven Ritz: said, That warms my heart. I'm going to put that on top of the page, but once this interview goes live, thank you for saying that, Joe, that, that really does 
[00:35:22] Joe Swartz: warm my heart. Well, I mean, and you've really done some amazing work and we love having you hon, we're going to have to have a yacht to get, and we love spending time with you.
I'm looking forward to seeing you hopefully before then, but if not, definitely in February at indoor ag con, we'll all be there. Um, yeah, if Steven could get up and get a little more. Uh, time, obviously I've never seen anybody inspire and move more people than Stephen. So, so a platform for him, uh, would be amazing, but, uh, certainly you have a platform here.
Um, we, we will do everything we can to move you forward. Uh, everyone else, please take his example. Um, do it at home. It doesn't take a [00:36:00] lot. It takes that little bit of effort, that little bit of inspiration and, and what, what we can do is, is amazing. So, so God bless you, Steven, and thank you so much for all that.
Um, we're honored to have you as a friend. Um, love talking, uh, everything about ya, but, uh, but certainly what you've done for all of us is, is way more than we could ever give back. 
[00:36:23] Steven Ritz: The guys live in the classroom. We got to get you alive in the classroom. I want to get out and do that. Honestly. Maybe we could find, um, our sponsor and send us out on a farm for, for the industry.
I would love to do some of these shows live with you guys from farm to farm. Maybe bring in some local kids. I think really we've got to start thinking differently about the way we're communicating outwards to bring more people. Um, and I think that's something I'd like to talk about with you. Well, we'll talk about that 
[00:36:53] Joe Swartz: offline.
Yeah, absolutely. And, um, you know, certainly I want to get out to the Bronx. I want to see your kids and [00:37:00] meet your kids and meet Lizette because I, from everything I've heard, I've, I've probably, uh, uh, get more, uh, hearing from her. And, uh, she'll probably set me straight as to what really goes on down in the Bronx.
But, um, but I really well. 
[00:37:14] Steven Ritz: That is sex free, including some people in our industry too. I absolutely Ellie. She says what she means to meet. 
[00:37:24] Joe Swartz: Excellent. That's what we like. So, um, obviously one of my favorite people, uh, favorite podcast. Thank you so much, everyone for joining us. Uh, please consider checking Stephen out and supporting his work.
And, um, we've got a lot of great people, uh, uh, coming down the road. We've got a lot of great guests, uh, going to be hard, a hard act to follow, but, uh, certainly, uh, we're looking forward to some more stuff. So thanks very much. Uh, Stephen Ritz again, thank you for your time. Uh, and thank you all for listening to us today and what a great way to kick off 2022.