Meral Marino is a deeply experienced plant woman. Born in Istanbul, Turkey, at the age of six, Meral's family migrated to Austria and lived in a small town surrounded by farms, hills, and forests. It was there that Meral grew up surrounded by the magic of nature, spending her childhood running outdoors amidst the woods and wildlife. Meral moved to Rome in her early 20’s and continued to deepen her knowledge and relationship with plants and gardens of the Mediterranean. Meral emigrated to New York City nearly 20 years and although she initially working in a restaurant, the plants were always calling. In 2004, Meral decided to change careers and pursue her lifelong love of plants. She began by working with the NYC Parks Department’s pilot horticulture program, obtaining a Certificate from the New York Botanical Gardens. After two years working for Parks, she became an AmeriCorps member with the New York Restoration Project (NYRP). Since 2012 she has worked at Clinton Housing Development Company’s Department of Community Cultivation, where she manages dozens of small urban gardens, gardens based in affordable housing, street plantings and over 100 city street trees. Meral is always working to connect the community with plants, gardens and the love of the outdoors.