Alumni Profile of the Month: Diego Martins

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icon-clock April 27, 2023

“If I never would have completed GCF I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was able to learn many skills while at GCF and use them to obtain a career.

Diego Martins

Graduated: 2018, Cohort 14

From: Weeksville Houses, Brooklyn

Current Position: Greenhouse Manager, The Horticultural Society of New York (aka “The Hort”)

We create greenspaces and gardens that engage people on their sidewalks, in public plazas and open streets. On the ground, plant by plant, we transform neighborhoods, homeless shelters and nursing homes, schools and even jails. We support all people in their quest to improve their lives and communities with urban horticulture.


Tell us about your current role.

“I manage a greenhouse in Riverbank State Park. I grow for the community and care for a collection that has plants that are 30 years old. There are raised beds in the learning garden that are used to grow what the community wants. I assist with public programs such as cooking classes and youth internships. I also grow plants for a chef who cooks for a supportive housing program in Brooklyn.


What does your typical workday look like?

“A typical work day is coming into the greenhouse, watering the collection and seedlings. I prepare for programming depending on the day. I check the high tunnels that are outside to make sure the plants in there are doing well. I have a few meetings, and then I check the seedlings on the growing tables, thin them out or plant more. If I’m not planting or watering I’m performing IPM [integrated pest management] to combat spider mites, aphids, and scales.”



How has your GCF experience helped you? 

“If I never would have completed GCF[‘s Service Corps] I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was able to learn many skills while at GCF and use them to obtain a career.”


About Diego’s career pathway:

I’ve had almost every job under the sun. After GCF I worked in nonprofits around NY. I quickly realized I needed to go to school to be able to get the pay I would need to survive living in NYC. I graduated with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Bronx Community College. After that I did private landscaping, but it didn’t fulfill me. The jobs I loved to do involved community. I started working at The Hort and have been happy ever since growing for the community.


What advice do you have for current Corps Members and other Alumni?

“Network as much as possible. Get into the community meetings to have your voice heard. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve and what you’re worth. Be kind to everyone – you never know who you’re talking to or what connections they have.”


Achievements at GCF:

  • Graduating!
  • Receiving a Compost Award!


What’s your favorite GCF memory?

“My favorite memory at GCF would be our Tuesday meetings in Mayday. We were able to come together and see what each team was up to. It was a really special time to reconnect with other members.”



“Green City Force has been a ladder to a future I thought would take years to achieve. I’ve grown into a young adult who has a passion for agriculture and helping others. Before Green City Force I was working paycheck-to-paycheck in a job that didn’t value my skills. I chose to become a Corps Member because the organization seemed like they wanted to help communities in need. I felt that if I could impact one person’s life, then these 10 months were worth it. The most important thing I’ve learned from being in GCF is that my past affects every part of my life. I have the opportunity to use my past as a lesson instead of a crutch for my behavior. After GCF I plan on working with Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation as an intern, learning and mastering what it takes to run a successful farm. I would like to thank Carson Leigh Ross for being patient with me during this growing period, and I would like to thank Adah Laura Hill for becoming my family during these months when I felt that I was all alone.”



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