Tag Archives: Alice Waters

Rooftop gardens growing throughout NYC public schools

3 Dec

4127236249_d2d5b01d43All over New York City, farms and gardens are sprouting up on public school roofs, backyard lots and even in their front yards!

Educators and lawmakers alike are beginning to put into practice what many supporters of an edible education have been advocating for years: giving kids an opportunity to plant, grow and harvest during the school day.

In a city where most blocks are lined with a few trees or the occasional flowerbed, schoolyard gardens provide urban students firsthand contact with nature, teaching them how food grows. By getting their hands dirty, they cultivate a more evolved knowledge of what constitutes healthy, natural eating, stressing the importance of fresh produce and the lifecycle of food. The importance of garden-based learning can also be viewed as a potential interactive solution to the ongoing obesity challenge that our country faces.

According to GreenThumb, the number of school-based gardens increased exponentially in the span of two years, from 40 to over 230! GreenThumb has been an excellent source for these initiatives, providing community gardens throughout the city with programming and technical support.

On Avenue B and 5th Street in the East Village, a brand new 2,400-square-foot garden opened at the beginning of the school year. Sitting atop a red-brick building that is home to three separate public schools, the Earth School, Public School 64 and Tompkins Square Middle School, this giant rooftop educational farm was designed by Michael Arad. Arad, also the architect behind the National September 11 Memorial further downtown, was inspired to create the Fifth Street Farm after learning that his own children (former students of the school) were in awe that their crisp and juicy apples once were plucked from trees.

The Horticultural Society of New York has been working with over two dozen schools since 1980, helping them with the design, construction, and education curriculum. The Hort’s mission “is to sustain the vital connection between people and plants” as they help out with the Earth School as well as more recently with four public schools in Queens.

At P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village, the school’s newly opened 15,000-square foot garden is more than a source of fresh produce for lunch, but has really become an outdoor classroom. By teaching kids about art, science, and math through the lens of gardening, their school-day routine becomes more of a hands-on experience.

This summer, for our third year, Butter Beans will be holding our Food & Garden Camp. With a similar mindset as these schools, our goal is to give your children a unique farm-to-table experience. From July to August, we will be covering the gamut of the food cycle from sprouting seeds and harvesting fresh food from rooftop gardens, to writing our very own cookbooks. Visit our website for more information.

For another great examples of greening schools, check out this edible schoolyard in East London, where lots of growing is taking place each day (check out their “lessons in loaf” pictures, they are wonderful!), and get to know Leave It Better, an organization that is accomplishing great feats in greening our local school communities as well.

Photos courtesy of kthread and growtolearn.org

Flora’s seasonal recipe: comforting lentils

9 Nov

One of my favorite foods growing up was lentils (yes, it’s true!).

My mom used to make lentils with olive oil, sprinkle of parmigiano regiano and a dash of salt. I always treasured the times that she made this dish, as it always made feel great.

Eating these lovely legumes on a cold fall or winter day, warmed me up, and lifted my spirits. It made me feel calm, centered and healthfully full.

Every time I ate a bowl of lentils, I could feel my iron levels increase dramatically, as my mom would always tell me how high in iron they were. Popeye and I had some things in common! Women need a good amount of iron, and I always turned to lentils instead of taking an iron supplement.

Little did I know that lentils not only contained high level of iron, they also contain protein, fiber, folate and magnesium which are great for building muscle, improving digestion, strengthening your nervous system, and improving blood circulation. Go lentils!

A bowl of lentils is one of the easiest recipes out there, so get excited for these very short directions! To make the meal more balanced you can always mix it up with some brown rice, quinoa or add it into tomato sauces, and pastas.

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

Directions:
Bring your water to a boil, add lentils. Lower to a simmer, and cook for 30-40 minutes (depending on the lentils you use). Once cooked, and water fully absorbed, add your lentils to your favorite bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, then mix. Top with fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese, a dash of salt. Sit and savor each bite.

“Let things taste of what they are.”
-Alice Waters

green gardens growing in East London schoolyard

21 Sep
Sixteen years ago, Alice Waters partnered with the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and their school community to start an edible garden, whose purpose was to create an experiential learning space that delved into various school subjects. Through strong community support, Alice Waters spearheaded the transformation of a concrete playground into an edible schoolyard, and in turn started a local food revolution.Since then, many schools have followed suit, encouraging the growth of school gardens, greenhouses, cooking programs and gardening initiatives all across the country, and world.

Across the pond, in an East London school community, shoots and similar ideas are sprouting. Spearheaded by parent, Cassie Liversidge, the Chisenhale Primary School has grown it’s very own edible playground.

The playground boasts a bounty of fresh fruits, veggies, and even wheat, which they mill in class, and transform into fresh loaves of bread, in collaboration with the “lessons in loaf” curriculum. Some of their local produce is used in their cafeteria, so that the children can eat their very own harvested food at lunchtime.

The children all have a hand in planting, weeding, harvesting and even selling! By smartly partnering with the Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening, School Food Matters, and Waitrose, they are bringing the community together all in the name of good food education.

For more information on the Chisenhale Primary School edible playground, check out the Edible Schoolyard’s website here. To hear Cassie speak about the transformation she helped spark, watch her inspiring video here, friend her facebook page, and follow her on twitter.

A quote to inspire your weekend

17 Aug

531299263_35e4ff0eca“I believe that every child in this world needs to have a relationship with the land…to know how to nourish themselves…and to know how to connect with the community around them.” – Alice Waters

Wishing you all a weekend filled with nourishing foods, community, family and happiness.

Photo courtesy of David Sifry