21 October 2010

Weeding, writing and arithmetic, first 'Edible Schoolyard' opens in Brooklyn

Last Friday New York’s first Edible Schoolyard opened at P.S. 216, the Arturo Toscanini School in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The nationwide program, started in California, aims to educate children about nutrition and guide them to make healthy food choices.

The Edible Schoolyard program, started by renowned chef Alice Waters, helps students plant gardens, cultivate food and prepare nutritious meals using food grown in the gardens. A former asphalt playground at P.S. 216 was transformed last summer into an urban garden containing 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Chef Alice Waters, as well as movie star and Edible Garden supporter Jake Gyllenhall were on hand at the opening ceremony last Friday to watch students plant kale and learn about composting.

Students can also procure culinary skills by learning how to prep, cook and serve their bounty from the garden in the schools state of the art kitchen.

“We have the power to help eradicate the childhood obesity epidemic and it’s programs like Edible Schoolyard NYC that are working to do just that,” said Christine Baker of Edible Schoolyard NYC.

PS 216 Principal Celia Kaplinksy said, "Taking everything we learn up in the classroom and bringing it into the garden. There will be planting and harvesting and working together and making good decisions that will really impact on the children's lives in terms of their eating habits and appreciation for what the earth gives us.”

Edible Schoolyard plans to open 25 more gardens in Brooklyn schools and eventually an edible academy in each of the five boroughs of New York City.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw
Robin lives in NYC with her cat Maggie where she follows a vegetarian lifestyle, practices yoga, and volunteers at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Follow Robin on Facebook

Photo credit: esyny.org/design