Warrie Price’s energy is palpable. She is a bumble bee in perpetual motion, an indispensable agent whose life’s work it is to make things bloom, literally. She is the President and Founder of New York’s BatteryConservancy, an ever-evolving public park, farm and historic site. It will soon be the site for a massive underwater themed Merry-Go-Round, called Sea Glass.
In 1994, Warrie founded The Battery Conservancy to rebuild and revitalize the historic Battery, the twenty-three acre park at the Southern tip of Manhattan. With the help of her board of directors and inspired government partners, she has raised over $62 million in twelve years. If you haven’t been down to Battery Park lately, make a day of it. Bike down the newly paved bike lanes, stroll the extensive gardens and urban farm, where students from local public schools are growing their own food, and happily. The bamboo fencing is made from the recycled materials from the Starn twins 2010 installation at the Metropolitan museum,Big Bambu. A very thoughtful, artful yet sustainable touch. None of this would exist without the efforts of the fabulous (incredibly stylish) Warrie Price.
Warrie is a native to Texas, and maintains a light, lilting cadence of a real Southern lady. She began by studying Education at University of Austin, TX. Then John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Her college roommate at the time was Vice President L.B.J’s daughter, Linda Byrd Johnson. The whole Johnson family abruptly moved into the White House for the remainder of JFK’s presidential term. Warrie says, “Mrs. J called (that’s what I called the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson). She asked me to come and live in the White House. She wanted me to help Lynda and Luci, her daughters, through this traumatic transition. I lived there for 6 months. I was witness to a very incredible time in modern history. I was witness to LBJ’s initiatives, and I was witness to Mrs. J.’s work with parks around America. I saw and felt the government of the day closely. I was there when people had great dreams. Because of my friendship with Linda, my whole world changed dramatically.”
So, Warrie went on to pursue her career in the government, working in the U.S. Foreign Service as the Assistant Cultural Attaché in Santiago, Chile. The brown clay pot we used to collect the wild violets and asparagus was actually a traditional piece of pottery acquired during her time in Chile. It is still one of her favorite pieces.
Warrie went on to receive a Master of Public Administration in 1972 from The Kennedy School at Harvard University. She came to New York City after being recruited to serve in the Bureau of the Budget, shifting her focus to domestic issues after spending so much time abroad.
She married, had two kids, and became a community board member in Manhattan. “As a community board member, I studied land use and community-based planning,” she said. “New York for me became a matter of loving neighborhoods, and understanding their dynamic.” Public art, green space and horticulture are Warrie’s passions, and she will stop at nothing to see that New Yorkers have access to it all those things on a daily basis.
Warrie recently invited me up to her breathtaking home in upstate New York to tour her grounds and make a salad from what she had growing in her vegetable garden. We snapped fresh asparagus, foraged tiny wild violets growing just about everywhere on the property, between the cracks of her pavers and all throughout her lawn. We meandered through the endless rows of blueberry bushes just starting to blossom. In anticipation of her blueberry harvest, we added some dried blueberry from last year’s crop to the salad.
This salad is simple and elegant and relies on the freshest ingredients. Just be sure to get the best asparagus you can find. Asparagus should snap when put under tension; the tips should be firm and never mushy, and of course, edible flowers foraged just before serving.