“I was majoring in comparative religion at Barnard College, my goal was to become a professor but I realized that's not what I wanted to do,” said the Indiana native.
After she completed her undergraduate studies, she decided to switch routes and obtain a Master's in natural resource management given her long-time love of nature.
From there she had escaped New York for a bit but returned in 1991. She managed to obtain a job as a park ranger – but it was something she said she hated.
“It didn't suit my personality,” she said. “We had to wear uniforms and there was a lot of enforcement.”
As luck would have it, she ran into a friend with whom she attended grad school. He told her about a position at Grow NYC working with community gardens.
“I didn't know anything about community gardens, but I spun myself at the interview and managed to convince them to hire me,” she said.
There, she worked with longtime farmers who needed help fixing up their gardens and getting resources. “I completely fell in love with it,” she said. “It's good that I didn't know anything about gardens because I learned all I needed to learn there.”
It was there she fell in love with many of the city's gardeners.
“It's all about them, a lot of what they do is inspirational,” she said.
In 1998, when then-mayor Rudy Giuliani wanted to auction off the city's gardens, Stone became an on-the-ground activist for the gardeners, helping them organize by creating petitions and sending letters to various elected officials. It was this spirit that led her to Green Thumb in a position shaped to match her: organizational director.
Part of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the agency offers materials and education to roughly 600 community gardens around the five boroughs.
In 2001, she was made director of Green Thumb.
“I spend a substantial amount of time talking to people around the world, so many people are into expanding urban agriculture all over the place,” she said.
It's a position which she says suits her well because she still gets to be around the people she admires: the gardeners. “They come from all over and it's great to hear their stories,” she said. “A lot of them never do it for themselves, they do it to teach kids, seniors and to make their neighborhood better.”