I recently came across two wonderful stories about community gardens.
Ground will soon be broken for the first New York school garden in the Edible Schoolyard project, which was begun by pioneering chef and school garden proponent Alice Waters. The garden, at Public School 216 in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighborhood, will feature a solar-powered building with a kitchen classroom that includes space for the children to make and enjoy meals from the food they’ve grown. Also in the works are a chicken coop, a composting system, an outdoor pizza oven, a portable greenhouse, and rainwater collection.
The 460 students, grades K-5, will learn a variety of traditional subjects through the garden, and it is hoped that the school will become a center for environmental and agriculture studies. The school, in an area where children would not normally have ready access to gardens, represents the 6th Edible Schoolyard in the U.S. and the only one currently set to operate year-round. School Principal Celia Kaplinsky said she also envisions the garden as a place to build community, where children with many different cultures and languages can bond.
Another terrific story just surfaced about a series of backyard vegetable gardens in San Jose, CA. The project is spearheaded by a group called La Mesa Verde, which is part of the Silicon Valley Health Trust. Both groups encourage healthy eating and community enhancement through gardening, noting that growing ones own healthy food is not only a source of pride, but a surefire way to have access to good greens.
30 backyard gardens were recently planted in San Jose’s Gardner and Washington-Guadalupe neighborhoods, which are home to many relatively new Latino immigrants who comprise the city’s working poor. The neighborhoods, while blessed with an average of 300 sunny days a year, offer limited access to fresh food. Homegrown food has meant access, along with tremendous money savings, for many. Says one resident, “People don’t eat vegetables unless they are close by.”
La Mesa Verde founder Raul Lozano hopes to get about 70 more backyard gardens planted by spring, with help from community volunteers.
Photo: Jean-noël Lafargue. ChickenFreak