NYBG’s Congressional District has the highest food insecurity rate in the nation. Many Bronx residents lack access to affordable fruits and vegetables and suffer from high rates of obesity and related diseases. Understanding at a young age where food comes from is an important first step in making the important connections among plants, science, and the benefits of a healthful lifestyle.
NYBG is responding to this nutrition crisis through the new Edible Academy opening in June 2018. This year-round, state-of-the-art facility will revolutionize and expand NYBG’s acclaimed garden-based educational programs and offer life-changing opportunities to more than 100,000 children, families, and teachers.
There is still time to make a contribution to this incredible new initiative, and help support the Edible Academy’s opening in 2018. You can learn more about the proposed facilities; the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, cornerstone of the Edible Academy; and the current and future garden programming your pledge will support below.
Visualizing the Future of The Edible Academy
The new complex will host many exceptional features, focusing on energy conservation, sustainability, and first-class education facilities.
A free-standing Solar Pavilion located at the southern end of the Family Garden, and next to the planting areas, will provide a comfortable shaded gathering space for school lunch, special programs, and classes. Solar panels on the roof of the pavilion will capture energy to help power the facility and offset our energy usage.
Designed to seat 300, the Terraced Lawn Amphitheater will comprise a stepped terrace to be sited in the grassy, sloped area north of the Family Garden. With open views, this new outdoor venue can offer large-scale cooking demonstrations, music performances, and other public programming.
The semi-circular Event Lawn, a site for special events and the general enjoyment of our visitors, will be surrounded by glorious vegetable display gardens, full of seasonal plantings.
The heart of this project will be a LEED Gold-certified environmentally sustainable model green building with cutting-edge technology, a green roof, porous pavements, and geothermal heat.
The Overlook Pavilion, creating a front porch for the Edible Academy with a deck overlooking the Bronx River, will accommodate educational programs, cooking demonstrations in the adjacent smart classroom, and seated outdoor dinners.
The plantings of the Meadow Garden will attract beneficial insects, providing a habitat for necessary pollinators and predators of pests. Hosting a palette of native plants, among others, and an authentic wigwam, lessons in plant and animal interactions will take advantage of this area.
Connected to the classrooms and with maximum sun exposure, along with temperature control and a shading system, the Teaching Greenhouse will serve as a potting and propagation area as well as a child-friendly teaching space.
The building will include two high-tech classrooms with interactive SMARTboards. Each classroom will be able to accommodate 25–30 adults or 32 children with 5 adult chaperones and will offer year-round edible gardening programs and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education activities related to growing and cooking.
From the Ground Up: Vermicomposting in the Family Garden
Vegetable gardening in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, cornerstone of the future Edible Academy, begins deep in the dirt—and vermicomposting ensures we have the very best soil possible.
Here, Annie Novak, Manager of the Edible Academy, discusses the earthworms that make it all happen, and the improved composting facilities that will be made possible by the Edible Academy initiative.
Healthy Harvests & Hands-On Learning
Garden-fresh, organic vegetables are at the heart of the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, and we’re not just harvesting them—we’re cooking them and teaching kids and families to do the same!
See how our Whole Foods Market® Demonstration Kitchen and the Dig! Plant! Grow! program are providing techniques and recipes that anyone can use in the home kitchen, and laying the groundwork for future programming in the Edible Academy.
Global Gardens at NYBG
Below we speak with Frank Russo—a long-time volunteer in our Family Garden and the caretaker of the Italy Garden—about the history of the vegetable plantings here at NYBG, and the heirloom seeds passed from generation to generation that make up our many crops.
Beekeeping with Annie Novak
Serving as the foundation of our future Edible Academy, the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden has been a hub of green education for decades, now celebrating the 60th anniversary of its Children’s Gardening Program in 2016!
This week we caught up with Annie Novak, Manager of the Edible Academy, for a look into the lives of some of the busiest contributors in this two-acre vegetable garden: our honeybees. These pollinators are a big part of what makes our programs here possible, and they’ll continue to play an integral role after our Edible Academy is completed—both as hardworking supporters of our crops’ success and tools for educating kids, families, and teachers about the importance of pollinators to our food chain.