Greenpoint Gazette

Escape the ‘Concrete Jungle’ with Jungle Design

BY Megan Soyars

Ever wondered how to bottle your own perfume? Or create your own urban compost? Well, you can learn these artisanal crafts— and much more—at Jungle Nights, a new summer workshop series presented by Amanda Mitchell of Jungle Design NYC and curated by Damaris Cozza and Tara Sansone.

Jungle Design NYC, a Williamsburg-based commercial and rental garden design company, teamed up with the Brooklyn women to offer workshops for adults each Thursday and children each Sunday in July. All will take place in Jungle Design’s outdoor garden, presenting the perfect escape from the “concrete jungle.”

Courtesy of Tara Sansone and Damaris Cozza

“All of the workshops revolve around uses for plants,” explained Hannah Shaw, assistant to Amanda Mitchell. In the series, adults can learn how to infuse spirits with fruits and unique flavor enhancers, grill up the perfect summer meal to serve with herb infused cocktails, compost for urban environments, make a perfume with all natural products, and use indigo dying methods on clothes and handbags.

“We’ve got some of Brooklyn’s most talented professionals leading the workshops,” Shaw said. Sansone explained that she and Cozza worked hard to choose workshop instructors from within the community. “We selected local businesses to have relationships with,” Sansone said. “We’re happy to be working with Annie [Novak] of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Brooklyn Kitchen, and the Art Shack in Forte Greene.”

Annie Novak / Photo: Courtesy of Tara Sansone and Damaris Cozza

Not only are participants learning crafts related to nature, they’re also doing so in the scenic environment that is Jungle Design. Their 5,000 square foot outdoor space is filled with lush plant life. Since the workshops take place from 7-8:30 pm, folks can also watch the sunset along Williamsburg’s waterfront. “We’re offering complimentary wine and cocktails every evening, so it’s a really great way to unwind and relax,” Shaw added.

All materials for the workshops are provided, so participants only need to bring their imagination and an eagerness to learn an artisanal craft. Participants can also bring the items home with them. So when they’re asked what alluring perfume they’re wearing, or where they bought that bag, they can proclaim that they made it themselves!

There’s a feeling of satisfaction that comes from crafting, and Sansone explains that’s the intention of Jungle Nights. “The workshops are designed so that people can leave with something they’ve created,” she said. “Specifically, they’re designed for people who don’t have the time in their regular schedule to be creative, or a space at home to work for that matter. So they can come here to this beautiful space and take something away from the experience.”

Megan Soyars

Shaw added that Mitchell, Cozza, and Sansone—“Longtime professionals and longtime friends”—had been planning to host events at that space for some time. “Amanda [Mitchell] and I met through our kids since they went to school together,” Sansone explained. “We’ve always been interested in doing community events together. Amanda is especially open-minded, and this makes Jungle Design such a welcoming environment.”

The kid’s series starts off with the ever popular fabric dyeing workshop. “For some reason, kids especially love this. My own kids get so excited and pull out all the clothes they want to dye!” Sansone exclaimed. “So this workshop is a fun way for them to use plants and learn about them.”

The second workshop, led by Cozza, inspires children through the art of magical thinking. “Damaris loves engaging kids in creative and magical thinking,” Sansone stated, adding that Cozza has extensive experience teaching children through theatre and acting classes. In Cozza’s workshop, kids create “one-of-a-kind mini jungle worlds,” or terrariums, which they can take home with them to watch grow.

The final workshop involves planting seed balls. “Kids can manipulate and play around in the soil,” Sansone said. “They’ll love getting their hands dirty, and they can learn how things grow.”

For those who may be unable to attend the workshops available this June and July, never fear! Sansone and Cozza are already planning future events at Jungle Design. “We’d like to host private dinners, and are planning to host workshops in the fall, too,” Sansone said. “We want to keep things going in this beautiful, underutilized space.”

The fee for the kid’s workshops is $60, and discounts are available for siblings. Adult workshop prices range from $35 to $120. To reserve your space at the workshops, email or call 646-824-1260. A limited number of walk-ins can be accommodated.


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