Construction is underway on the asphalt grounds of P.S. 216 in Gravesend, making way for an experimental “edible schoolyard” that has been planned for more than a year.
The $1.6 million project will turn a half-acre of the yard into a garden, greenhouse and a kitchen classroom for students to get more connected with their foods. Teachers will design curriculum in just about every subject – from math and sciences, and on to the humanities – that will explore different aspects about growing and eating healthy foods.
Star foodies David Chang, of Momofuku, and Alice Walters, of California’s Chez Panisse, are teaming up to raise funds and advise on the project. Chang said the project will teach kids about responsibility as well as nutrition.
“Say a child raises this beautiful beet,” he told Oprah.com. “It’s going to give her a sense of ownership, and that changes everything. You stop taking things for granted; you become less wasteful.” It’s also noted that studies show that kids in school-garden programs increase their fruit and vegetable intake by two servings a day.
P.S. 216, located at 350 Avenue X, is the first New York City affiliate of the Edible Schoolyard program, and the most expensive. Berkeley, New Orleans and Los Angeles already have learning gardens set up, but none function year-round as P.S. 216’s will. Administrators hope the program will make the school into a center for environmental and agricultural studies.