This week, Edible Schoolyard NYC cut the ribbon on its first kitchen classroom in the city, at P.S. 216, the Arturo Toscanini elementary school in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Chef Glenn Harris of Manhattan’s The Jane and The Smith was on hand to serve hors d’oeuvres: popovers stuffed with scrambled eggs and creamed kale from the new half-acre garden. “The kids were blown away by them,” said ESYNYC’s executive director, Kate Brashares. “The kale they are growing was delicious,” Harris added.
But Harris wasn’t there as just a volunteer caterer: He graduated from P.S. 216 in the early 1980s. He played kickball where the kale and okra now grow, along with more than 60 other varieties of vegetables and fruits.
Like the original Edible Schoolyard that Alice Waters founded in Berkeley, this affiliated project aims to teach urban kids, as Harris put it, “that broccoli doesn’t grow on the grocery store shelves,” in hopes of inspiring them to seek out healthier choices. Harris heard about the project through his fourth grade teacher, Ms. Adler, who now teaches first grade. “Whatever they need or want me to do, I’m trying to get involved as much as possible,” he said. Besides making regular appearances at the school, Harris may host field trips to his Manhattan restaurants, so that students can see a chef from Gravesend at work. He’s helping raise funds to build a chicken coop, and is looking into whether his restaurants can buy the eggs and produce, to help make the project self-sustaining.
While ESYNYC has already broken ground on a second New York garden at P.S. 7 in Harlem, Harris hopes to help the group achieve its ultimate plan, to bring gardens to schools in all five boroughs.