You might think that having a garden at school could work in California but not in Brooklyn. PS216 is setting out to prove it can be done.
The original Edible Schoolyard (ESY), established in 1995, is a one-acre garden and kitchen classroom at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. It is a program of the Chez Panisse Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by chef and author Alice Waters.
The garden started as a cover crop in a vacant lot with once-monthly student participation. More than a decade later, it is a thriving acre of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Now, each student at King Middle School attends 12 to 30 sessions in ESY kitchen and garden classrooms, depending on grade level. ESY reaches each of the nearly 1,000 students at King Middle School.
The visibility of ESY has also increased. The program hosts over 1,000 visitors each year—from educators, to health professionals, to international delegates—and has inspired countless kitchen and garden programs. In 2005, they launched their first affiliate program in New Orleans, Louisiana. Today, there is a small network of Edible Schoolyard affiliate programs in cities across the country.
Working with Edible Schoolyard NY, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Foundation and PS216 in Brooklyn, WORKac is designing New York City’s first Edible Schoolyard (right). The design is a series of interlinked sustainable systems that produce energy and heat, collect rainwater, process compost and sort waste with an off-grid infrastructure.
At the heart of the project is the Kitchen Classroom (left), where up to thirty students can prepare and enjoy meals together. The kitchen’s butterfly-shaped roof channels rain water for reclamation. Connected to one side is the Mobile Greenhouse, extending the growing season by covering 1600sf of soil in the colder months and sliding away in the spring, over the Kitchen Classroom. On the other side is the Systems Wall: a series of spaces that include a cistern, space for composting and waste-sorting, solar batteries, dishwashing facilities, a tool shed and a chicken coop.
Click on the pictures to see larger versions and click on the heading above to learn how you can create an Edible Schoolyard.