Garden Stories: Leadership Workshops

Helping your life story bloom

Garden Stories: Leadership Workshops provides interactive programs for children designed to:

  • Heighten the children’s curiosity about gardening and nature
  • Promote healthier life styles by learning more about food sources
  • Increase children’s self-confidence and ability to collaborate with others
  • Strengthen ties between the children’s organization, parents, community garden and other partners involved in our program 

Garden Stories: Leadership Workshops works collaboratively under the ALF program umbrella.


Since 2017 we have designed and implemented a comprehensive program for third graders at the Children’s Workshop School.  Our participating partners for our interactive program include the Campos Community Garden near the school and a local community restaurant, Gnocco.

Our programs add the “A” (arts) to STEM programs by encouraging children to tap into their creativity and try out new ideas.  Garden Stories draws inspiration from life lessons learned through gardening and the arts. 

Fall workshops include:

  • Science and Exploration: Garden basics – Why Bees Matter?
  • Creative Problem Solving: Working in pairs to build incredible insects
  • Healthy Food: Working collaboratively in teams to create healthy, tasty treats using garden vegetables
  • Exhibiting art work in the garden for parents and community to view

Spring workshops include:

  • Origins of food: Making fresh pasta
  • Science and Exploration: Spring planting – creating starter plants from seeds
  • Storytelling:  Working in teams to create a story about the garden/cooking experiences
  • Inviting parents and the community to see the stories and tour the garden
John’s Video of the children’s workshops.

Who we are:

ALF and Garden Stories partnered in 2017 to launch a series of interdisciplinary workshops for the Children’s Workshop School and the Campos Community garden.   

  • Carolyn Ratcliffe, Artistic Director, Art Loisaida Foundation
  • Holly O’Grady, Founding Director, Garden Stories: Leadership Workshops

Bios for Carolyn and Holly can be found here


  • Christopher Batenhorst, Garden workshops
  • Gladys Feliciano, Art workshops
  • Linda Gelman, Storytelling workshop
  • GianLuca Giovanetti, Healthy cooking workshops
  • Carolyn Zezima, Garden and cooking workshops 
  • Children’s Workshop School
  • Dorothy Cantwell
  • Gary Mortson


  • Melania 
  • Robert
  • Sarah 

For further information on Garden Stories: Leadership Workshops contact


Note this page could also include how to donate to Garden Stories: Leadership Workshops 

  • Citizens Committee for New York City, Neighborhood Grants, 2017 & 18
  • Tower Reality, 335 E. 10th Street, New York, NY 10009
  • Gnocco, 337 E. 10th Street, New York, NY 10009
  • Campos Community Garden, E. 12th Street, New York, NY 10009


Alf Kids Art @ Tompkins Square Library: We host a free monthly children’s art class on the last Saturday of the Month at Tompkins Square Library in the 3rd Floor art room from 10:30AM to 12:00PM.

Screenings: We screen films on the environment and neighborhood such as “Home” and “Viva Loisaida” at the Tompkins Square Library, 6th St. Community Center, and at 11BC Garden.
Art Slams: Artists show images of their work and speak to audience about their creative process and the technical aspects of their work.
Community Garden Performances: Art Loisaida has its roots in the gardens of the Lower East Side/East Village and it organizes many different events in collaboration with Community Gardens such as 11BC Garden, de Colores Community Yard and Campos Garden.

Preservation: Because so many artists are under the threat of losing their homes as well as studio and venue space, Art Loisaida Foundation takes an active interest in supporting preservation initiatives and works with organizations, such as the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, to try to preserve the architectural heritage of our neighborhood. This was partly accomplished by our sponsoring of the first Annual “Meet and Greet” at the Theater for the New City as part of our “PRESERVATION: Preserve or Forget” Exhibit.

Visual Art Project: We host visual art exhibits, often featuring a performance, as part of the program at Theater for the New City Art Gallery, Tompkins Square Library Gallery, and other local venues. (From 2009 to April 2015)

Tompkins Sq. Library Art Gallery Project: Art Loisaida Foundation has brought together a group of concerned professionals who developed a proposal to improve the art gallery space at the Tompkins Square Library. Hugues Fournier, a landscape architect, designed pantings for the entrance ways, a sculpture court and, green roof addition, while local architect Catalina Salazar did drawings for the gallery itself. Sculptor Kathy Creutzburg produced drawings for new planters, and contractors Bob Reid and David Leslie of Reid Build did estimates for construction. Jerry Pagane, an artist who also has a sign company, initiated this project by lettering a new sign for the gallery. This project has been presented to the NYPL as well as to various local elected officials such as Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, and Boro President Scott Stringer. We continue to advocate for this space as it is one of the few free venues open to artists in the East Village. (DUE TO STAFF CHANGES THE PROGRAM WAS NEVER IMPLEMENTED)

About Us

Art Loisaida Foundation was incorporated on May 1st, 2008 by Mario Bustamante, Onno de Jong, and Carolyn Ratcliffe as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and it is registered with the New York State Charities Bureau. We grew out of an artist collaborative, Artistas de Loisaida, which was formed by three friends (Mario Bustamante, Carolyn Ratcliffe, and Robert Slaughter) in 1995 when we launched two shows simultaneously – one on Ave B and E. 12th Street, the other on Ave. C and East 9th Street, in conjunction with Earth Celebrations’s Rites of Spring Pageant. We then proceeded to take on more exhibits and presented our work in various locations throughout New York City, including a ten year stint at the Cork Gallery, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. Artistas de Loisaida continues as an artists’ collaborative and uses Art Loisaida Foundation as its fiscal sponsor.

Today, we put on an average of 6 visual art/multidisciplinary events every year, we stage and mount exhibits, performances, and screenings, and we hold art slams where artists exhibit slides of their work and talk about their creative process. In 2011, we produced Preservation: Preserve or Forget at Theater for the New City (TNC), Urban Tapestry at TNC, which was supported in part by the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, “de ja vu” at the Tompkins Square Library Art Gallery (this included a screening of David Barish’s WTC videos), an Art and Architecture Slam at the Bathhouse Studios, and an exhibit, “PROTEST” at TNC.

Art Loisaida Foundation advertises their shows to their list and posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace, and on the official website. If a show is not underwritten by funding, we ask for a tax deductible $50.00 donation from those who are accepted to attend the show to cover the cost of cards, the reception, gallery books, gallery guides, posters, PR, and various administrative costs. Carolyn Ratcliffe, Artistic Director of Art Loisaida Foundation, is the resident curator and she receives assistance from the Board of Directors. The work for running the exhibits is divided amongst the participating artists. We hang our own shows, design our own cards, set up and take down the receptions, and gallery sit to provide an opportunity for the local community to meet their native artists.

Our Mission

Art Loisaida Foundation is an arts and cultural organization based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We seek to expand the venues for local artists from our vibrant eclectic community and to improve access to local venues. We advocate for the arts and artists, seeking to provide opportunities for artists to ply their trade and sell their work by promoting visual arts exhibits, multidisciplinary performance, art slams, and children’s art classes. We are funded through public support: donations, art supplies from Materials for the Arts, Utrecht Art supplies, and private donors. Our website is funded through the generosity of Onno de Jong through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Circular Creation. All donations are greatly appreciated and they are used for the general operating support of this organization.

Visual Arts Project

We host visual art exhibits, often featuring a performance, as part of the program at Theater for the New City Art Gallery (From 2009 to Present). Art Loisaida curates art exhibits with artist talks and receptions at Ottendorfer Library featuring Lower East Side artists. Other local venues include The Clemente.

Art Slams

Artists show images of their work and speak to audience about their creative process and the technical aspects of their work. This program began at Tompkins Square Library and continue at Ottendorfer Library, 135 Second Avenue, every two months.

The Board

Onno De Jong-President-Is a graphic and web designer, photographer and artist and adjunct professor who teaches web design at Parsons. He is one of the 3 original incorporators of Art Loisaida Foundation and has been a member since its’ inception as Artistas De Loisaida, an artist collaborative that came into being in 1995. A longtime East Village resident, he lives with his wife and son  in the neighborhood.

Kris Enos – Vice President-is a Film Cameraman, photographer and videographer. He is long time East Village artist where he lives with his artist wife, Kathy Creutzburg (a longtime member of Artistas de Loisaida and Art Loisiada Foundation) and 2 sons.  He has been a member of Art Loisiada Foundation’s board since 2010 and is the curator of our annual Short Film Festival held in August.  He is the Vice President of Alphabet City Community Garden.

Carolyn Ratcliffe – Artistic Director and Treasure is one the founders of Artistas de Loisiada in 1995  and one of the incorporators of Art Loisaida Foundation(2008). She is a longtime East Village Resident who has been active in many neighborhood organizations as well as chairs the Arts and Culture Subcommittee of CB#3. She holds a Masters in Non Profit Management and a BA in Art and works as a Development Director for Downtown Music Productions.

Sally Young – Secretary is a painter and photographer. In the 1980’s/90’s she also designed costumes  for dance productions. She teaches art to young students at the Greenwich House Arts After-school program and Summer Arts camp in Greenwich Village.  As a long time East Village resident, Sally is also a community gardener, historic researcher, and tenant activist. She replaced Elodie Lauten on our Board in 2014.

Roy Chang – Board Member 2015; He is a theatrical technician at Theater for The New City and at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. He graduated from NYC College of Technology and is a local long time LES resident.

Robert L. Slaughter – Board Member has been involved in all aspects of  the arts for many years. With a fine arts degree, he has done everything from casting in bronze to painting on canvas. Having moved to New York from California, he was a private art dealer and owned several antique businesses. He was the North American correspondent for “Art and Antiques” magazine and is known internationally for his art salons from Bangkok to Nuremberg. With a background in special events, he has been involved in many aspects of production from hanging art exhibits to international film festivals. He is founder the “Arts Olympus” and currently working with African delegates to the United Nations to developing sustainable agriculture programs.

Holly O’Grady – Board Member 2018; is a talent development consultant.  She has evolved Garden Stories: Leadership Workshops in partnership with ALF to address the following: heighten children’s curiosity about nature; promote a healthier lifestyle by learning more about food sources; and to become more confident in their ability to work with others. She lives with her husband in the East Village.

Horacio Molina – Board Member 2018; is a working artist, painter and graphic designer. He is from “Medellin” Colombia, and has participated in our exhibits since 1995. He was a close friend to Mario Bustamante, our past president, and is a long time East Village Resident. His art studio is in Clemente Soto Velez. 

Angela Bernard – Board Member 2018; works in Interior design and metal fabricationShe joined our board in spring of 2018.  She was a partner with Mario Bustamante, our former president, in Mario Metals, an architectural metal design firm in Brooklyn NY and is a native of Colombia who lives in the East Village