What Not to Miss at Understory, Brooklyn’s First Urban Ecology Event

Photos: Gosha Rubchinskiy (L); Courtesy FABR Studio + Workshop (R)

A celebration of all-things botanical debuts this weekend.

Understory, the layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest, is also the name of Brooklyn’s newest gathering for nature-lovers. Held April 28 to 29 at 99 Scott, a new warehouse venue in Bushwick, the inaugural event will feature a rare plant sale, 25 workshops, and 35 vendors dedicated to all-things flora and fauna, from the ecological to the aesthetic. “It was the perfect opportunity to pull together people who represent all these ways of engaging with nature in the city,” says the event’s founder and director, Cerise Mayo, whose consultancy, Nutshell Projects, has been involved in helping farm upstarts in upstate New York and non-profits focused on teaching health and nutrition to New York City high school students.

At the center of the weekend will be a plant sale from Saipua, the popular floral studio based in Red Hook, with a selection of unique and rare plants alongside other local plant vendors like Tula House, GRDN, and Lower East Side Girls Club. In another space, a Makers’ Bazaar will have stalls selling ceramics, textiles, and woodwork, while a Citizen’s Science Fair will spotlight projects that engage New Yorkers with their urban environment. But the highlight of the fair will be the hands-on workshops led by some of the city’s leading creatives. Here, the five not to miss:

Botanical Illustration

This one-hour class, led by Sara Moffat, founder of Brooklyn-based art center L’Ecole Des Beaux Arts, will teach students how to observe, identify, and reproduce flora and fauna in pencil and watercolor.


Philip Winn

The Art of Bonsai Design

The Japanese art form is viewed as much as a meditative practice as it is horticultural pastime—and during the two-hour session, Julian Velasco, the former head of the bonsai department at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, will focus on both the philosophical history and technical process of planting and maintaining the miniature trees.

Urban Exploration Photo Tour

Brooklyn-based photographer Nicholas Pollack, whose work deals in the relationship between culture and geography, and who has exhibited at Zimmerli Art Museum in New Jersey, will lead a tutorial along the rail yard adjacent to the event’s venue to explore technical and compositional methods of capturing conflicting elements of the local landscape.


Courtesy Tula Plants & Design

Floral Headpiece Making

The coming of summer means the start of festival season—and no accessory is more requisite than the floral headpiece. Joshua Werber, a Brooklyn-based floral artist, will showcase wiring techniques for a variety of flower types in this three-hour, hands-on workshop for teens and adults.

Introduction to Mushroom Cultivation

Smallhold, New York City’s only certified organic mushroom farm, will host this one-and-a-half hour workshop that will cover everything from farming in controlled environments to building your own mushroom growing kit.