The National Gardening Association (NGA) is on a mission to plant a garden in every school. Learn more about the Garden in Every School® initiative.
Housed together in a four-story brown brick structure surrounded by brownstones and apartment buildings is PS 705 and Exceed Charter School of Brooklyn, New York. This combined school in the Crown Heights neighborhood has dedicated 1,000 square feet of their courtyard to an important cause: growing healthy food. A diverse edible landscape, the new school garden includes multiple fruit trees, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers – all planted for the purpose of giving children and their families an opportunity to engage in the process of growing, preparing, and eating fresh and healthy foods.
The school garden installation is led by the KidsGardening.org, in collaboration with TODAY as part of their “Shine a Light” series, a campaign to support worthy causes throughout 2014. Today show anchor, Carson Daly is leading the effort to alleviate childhood hunger and food insecurity by bringing gardens to schools. Through the installation of gardens at schools like PS 705, the effort is to bring the food source closer to the families and youth who are lacking access to whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
”We are growing a population of children that are not well-nourished,” said Mike Metallo, NGA’s President and CEO, in a recent interview with TODAY anchors Matt Lauer and Carson Daly. “Over 6.5 million children are living in food deserts. Our kids are becoming overweight not because they are eating well; they are overweight because they are eating poorly.”
Contributions to the garden installation included Sun Gro soil, Bonnie Plants seedlings and transplants, High Mowing seed packets, Ames garden tools, White + Burke design services, Rain Bird consultation and irrigation system, and over 800 square feet of flooring from ECORE. Add your donation to ensure the success of this program and others like it at schools in need.
Brooklyn Arts & Science Elementary School (PS 705) and The Explore Exceed Charter School is home to over 400 students, grades Pre K-5. The schools are new to the neighborhood and their presence brings a youthful energy that has rallied the community and parent volunteers. Whether fundraising through a bake sale, collaborating on a food drive, or holding school-wide science fairs, the two schools and their many active PTA members work together on a daily basis. Now, with the installation of the school garden, the school has seen a dramatic increase in parent participation and interest in programming and garden maintenance. The garden installation has also brought local group BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger to help in the distribution of extra harvest to families attending the schools and to those in the surrounding community who are in need.
As the programs approach their third academic year, school officials are excited to see their playground space transformed into a living schoolyard. "I see green, which is something that's hard to find here in Brooklyn," Sandra Beauvoir Soto, principal of PS 705. Right now, she says, "It's all concrete. It's asphalt. It's rubber. It's hard. And to have something living, breathing, growing, alive – like the children that we serve – I think, is gonna be really powerful for them."
The garden installation has been made possible by a combination of efforts of volunteers from the school and surrounding community, support from nonprofit partners, as well as material and monetary donations, and led by the expertise and guidance of the dedicated staff from KidsGardening.org. Join us in our effort to build a Garden in Every School® – Donate Today.
Learn more about Brooklyn Arts & Science Elementary School (PS 705) and Exceed Charter School.