Edible Schoolyard NYC Helps Kids Develop Green Thumbs, Taste For Fresh Ingredients


    Maintaining a healthy, sustainable lifestyle is important for many Americans. In a home, energy efficient appliances or bamboo floors, which are created using only 16 to 20% of the entire crop of bamboo, are popular ways to go green. Others might opt to ride a bike to work in lieu of driving a car, which can not only reduce carbon emissions but can play an important role in increasing physical activity levels. Some might even embrace a plant-based diet in hopes of preserving the planet and improving their own physical well-being.

    But in big cities, and particularly in low-income neighborhoods, it can be more difficult to make changes like these. Fresh produce can be expensive and hard to come by, but these healthy habits generally need to be formed from an early age. Fortunately, programs like Edible Schoolyard NYC are trying to change how New York public school students think, interact, and eat through gardening and cooking classes.

    Established in 2010, the non-profit organization began as a way to teach kids the connections between food, the environment, and health. It started with two participating schools but has now blossomed — literally and figuratively — to serve more than 3,000 New York City students.

    Lucero Elementary in the Bronx is just one of the schools that’s partnered up with Edible Schoolyard. Students get the opportunity to grow their own herbs, vegetables, fruit, and flowers, all while learning how nutrition and the environment can impact their future. But the lessons actually reinforce ideas that are included in their other classes, too. According to the Edible Schoolyard website, students may take a hands-on approach to the components of soil, compose poems inspired by their gardens, use math to calculate how their plants should be spaced, or delve into how Native American agricultural methods can be used in gardens today.

    Some of the schools that benefit from these programs are in key areas with high obesity rates. Inspiring a love for fresh food at a young age may be able to help curb the epidemic in these areas. In addition, Edible Schoolyard offers classes for parents, which can allow families to learn the value of accessible nutrition at home.

    Even Questlove has gotten in on the action. The Tonight Show musical director recently joined the advisory board for Edible Schoolyard, thus raising the non-profit’s profile and cementing the importance of teaching inner-city students about healthy food education.

    Programs like Edible Schoolyard and GrowNYC, along with other community garden initiatives, are doing their part to inspire stewardship of the earth for New York City families. With any luck, their green thumbs will continue to develop in the coming years.