Edible East End Schoolyards
"If Americans would choose seasonal food grown through sustainable techniques by local farmers, if we would serve caring meals at the family table rather than scarfing Happy Meals in the minivan, we would restore family values, transform our communities and stabilize the environment. We would also enjoy ourselves more." Alice Waters (Restrauteur, slow food advocate and originator of the Edible Schoolyard concept over fifteen years ago)
When Alice Waters introduced the idea of Edible Schoolyards more than fifteen years ago it was more about bringing families and communities back together. She saw the negative social impacts of fast food. The health impacts of a life based on packaged and processed food was still yet to be determined. Today two out of three children are obese! 61% of overweight 5-10 year olds already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and 26% percent have two or more risk factors. Less than 25% percent of adolescents eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. We can no longer ignore these statistics and the direct correlation with diet.
How a child learns about food and what he eats in the first ten years of life will determine lifelong habits. Edible Schoolyards not only teach healthy eating habits but they use the process of growing food to teach science, math, art and incorporate just about every discipline.
At the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, one of the pioneers of an Edible Schoolyard on the East End, they have been growing their own food for years. They have a separate building called "Jeff's Kitchen", which was built from the dream of late founder and parent Jeff Salaway. This building is home to an industrial kitchen where teachers, parents and children gather to prepare, study and cook meals. Aside from academics, many important life lessons are taught by the Edible Schoolyards; from healthy eating habits, respect for the land and how and where your food grows, to the importance of sharing and creating "gatherings" with friends and family around the food.
Surprisingly, it has been stated across the country in various press, that Edible Schoolyards are considered by some to be an interruption to the school curriculum. We at ecoeastend.com find this sad and shocking! Despite what the rest of the country is thinking, students, teachers and parents at nearly all of the schools (both public and private) on the East End of Long Island have embraced this idea with passion and enthusiasm.
The newest member to the Edible East End Schoolyard community is the Tuckahoe School in Southampton. Here is a blurb taken from the last newsletter sent home to families....
"Tuckahoe awarded Grant for Organic Community Garden! Health, savings and education grow in gardens! The garden committee at Tuckahoe is creating excitement with the proposal for a new organic community garden. The program is designed to create a garden for families and the school community to grow their own vegetables. Our students benefit by being part of the holistic experience of planting, nurturing, preparing and eating healthy food. Children will learn to understand the connection between food and land and help to instill an understanding of sustainable living. The garden will provide opportunity for interdisciplinary instruction, hands on activities, classroom integration, real life experience and community service opportunities. We plan to use the garden for consumption, as well as, an outdoor classroom to educate our students about agriculture, nutrition and healthy habits. This will bring health to the school and community and also bring families closer..." - Deborah Becker.
Stay tuned to our website www.ecoeastend.com where we will be doing a regular feature on Edible East End Schoolyards- one school at a time.