Stephen Ritz

Chief Eternal Optimist
Green Bronx Machine

Stephen Ritz is a South Bronx educator who believes that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. Self-proclaimed CEO – Chief Eternal Optimist – of Bronx County, Steve has moved generations of students into spheres of personal and academic successes they have never imagined while reclaiming and rebuilding the Bronx.

Stephen’s extended student and community family have grown more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx while generating extraordinary academic performance. Affectionately known as America’s Favorite Teacher and The Pied Piper of Peas, Steve is the Founder of Green Bronx Machine and is now focusing his energy and attention upon building the National Health and Wellness Center at PS 55, a national prototype STEM facility complete with an indoor vertical farm producing 100 bags of groceries per week and adult workforce development center. His students recently hosted White House Chef Bill Yosses and Clinton Foundation Global Ambassador Reed Alexander cooking vegetables they grew in school.

Just named a Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Steve’s additional accolades include meeting Pope Francis, a 2014 Greenius Award, 2014 Green Difference Award, 2013 Latin Trends Award, ABC Above and Beyond Award, Chevrolet / General Motors National Green Educator Award, USS Intrepid Hometown Hero Award, NYC Chancellor’s Award and various others. Dressed in a home-made bow tie and always chanting Si Se Puede!, Stephen is the oldest sixth grader you’ll ever meet. His work has been featured by the US State Department, in major media nationally and internationally and he’s the first to tell you, he’s just getting started!


  • Change Food Eats – Stephen Ritz

    Change Food

    Stephen Ritz is the author of the best selling book The Power of a Plant and founder of Green Bronx Machine, an organization that works to build healthy, equitable and resilient communities through local food systems, education, and workforce development. In this first episode of Change Food eats, you’ll find out what he’s up to […]

  • Name one thing you can do for the Food System – Stephen Ritz

    Change Food

    Steve says: One thing that we need to change in the food system is to open our hearts, open our eyes, open our minds, and extend a hand. We need a hand up and not a hand out. I want people to walk with me and work with me. What we need is people to […]

  • Green Bronx Machine: National Health and Wellness Center at PS 55 – Stephen Ritz


    Stephen Ritz (Mr. Steve to his students) is the founder of Green Bronx Machine. Steve talks about the challenges that continue to face his students in the South Bronx and building the National Health & Wellness Center at PS55. The Center will send his students home with 100 lbs of vegetables each week that they […]

  • Green Bronx Machine – Growing Our Way into a New Economy – Stephen Ritz


    Stephen Ritz is not a farmer. He’s a parent, a resident and a teacher. He noticed his students were getting fatter and sicker. This is Steve’s crusade to get his students to eat healthy by learning to grow their food and their community.