Kinder-Garden: Edible Schoolyard NYC Cultivates Young Minds

At a time when private school students take cafeteria kale for granted, Edible Schoolyard NYC is bringing the top of the food chain to the kids who need it most.

Kinder-Garden: Edible Schoolyard NYC Cultivates Young Minds

I have officially drunk the Kale-Aid.

In the 20 years since Alice Waters started her Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, with the lofty goal of engaging students in gardening and cooking to “awaken their senses,” everything I heard or read provoked the reaction in me that I now see in so many friends: eyes rolling back, brain registering blah-blah-blah. The whole enterprise seemed so heirloom-tomato-pie in the sky, so Berkeley, so Alice, you could imagine students baking eggs in hand-cast iron ladles in wood fireplaces.

And then I went to see the Edible Schoolyard in action in East Harlem.

I was charmed but not surprised when one seventh-grader told me that “you could eat a flower,” as in nasturtiums and squash blossoms. (What else would Alice teach?) And I was both surprised and seduced when the flower girl, 12-year-old Quadier Martin, said she taught her parents to make salad dressing using honey, mustard and a recipe from class.

Other students at the school on East 120th Street — one of the first two in New York to incorporate the Edible Schoolyard curriculum, along with a school in Gravesend, Brooklyn, with more in propagation — chimed in with comments like “when you cook vegetables, you try them, like kale and carrots and green onions.”

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