Sunday, May 16, 2010

NYC School Garden's Initiative

Mayor Bloomberg joins Rachel Ray in Connecting Education, Agriculture, and Healthy Eats!

Very happy to see this press release on the

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Rachael Ray today announced a series of initiatives to help our City’s youth eat healthier and understand where their food comes from. The new programs, supported by Rachael Ray and her Yum-o! organization, will help schools build a garden or connect them to an existing garden and provide cooking and nutrition instruction to young New Yorkers. The announcement was made next to the vegetable garden at PS 29 in Brooklyn, which the school is using to teach students about healthy eating – in addition to enhancing science and nature curriculums

PS 29 is just one of many schools taking advantage of the use of outdoor gardens for educational and nutritional value. This is a challenge for many schools whose space is limited, the press release notes:

There are growing and food learning opportunities even amidst space constraints in our dense city. City schools have already found creative ways to implement gardening projects.Examples of innovative growing projects include PS 364 in the East Village which grows vegetables in converted pickle barrels; PS 146 in Brooklyn which has created a complex composting and rainwater harvesting system to support their thriving garden; and Discovery High School in the Bronx which started a hydroponic growing wall, which was also featured at the announcement.

(I would mention another barrier to educators: the supposed lack of a "green thumb" on the part of teachers. This may be from a past bad experience with house plants, or garden. This is one additional benefit of sub-irrigation agriculture (read more at, is that its harder to kill the plants!)

But its great to see that the city is stepping up and providing (limited) funding and guidance to schools who want to take this path.

The Mayor announced new efforts that will help address these obstacles including:
  • Launching a new mini-grant program (grants of $500-$1,000) this fall for schools in need of funds to start a garden.
  • Creating a website for schools, being designed by GrowNYC, to be launched by this fall with resources including:
    • Additional technical assistance provided by GrowNYC and GreenThumb.
    • Information on how to locate and connect to local community gardens.
    • Complimentary programming provided by City and nonprofit partners.
    • Information for teachers on how to incorporate garden instruction into existing curricula to maximize their academic impact.
  • Expanding the “Garden to Café” pilot program from 25 schools to more than 50 schools in the 2010 school year. The program’s goal is to connect school gardening and lunch menus through seasonal harvest events and educational activities. PS 29 is one of the initial Garden to Café sites and the school uses what is grown in the garden in its salad bar and to create recipes for special events.
  • Starting a teen intern program to take care of school gardens during the summer months. NYC Service will also help coordinate volunteers to care for the gardens.

At Bushwick Campus, we may be a bit ahead of the curve, but we are right on time in NYC!

Let's all grow green together as a campus!

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