NYBG’s Edible Garden to bear fruits of knowledge

NYBG’s Edible Garden to bear fruits of knowledge
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

The New York Botanical Garden’s state-of-the-art gardening educational facility is in full bloom!

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 14 marked the grand opening of NYBG’s $28 million Edible Academy residing on a sprawling three-acre campus.

To commemorate the momentous occasion, Mayor de Blasio, NYBG chairwoman Maureen Chilton and president Gregory Long, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl and local students participated in the Edible Academy’s ceremonial ‘first harvest.’

Designed by New York architecture and design firm Cooper Robertson, the facility was conceived in 2012 to address childhood obesity and educate NYC students and their families on healthy eating habits.

Its iconic landscape was designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

Sprouting from the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, the campus incorporates two ‘smart’ classrooms, display gardens, the Solomon Family Apiary, a teaching greenhouse, the 350-seat terraced lawn Burke Amphitheater, a green roof, Green Zone, composting toilets, a covered Butterfly Tram Stop, an open-air solar pavilion, geothermal wells, Wamsler Phillips Plant Nursery, Royce Family Meadow Garden, Gossett Overlook Pavilion, service yard, event lawn, demonstration kitchen, technology lab and the Barnsely Beds.

The LEED-certified 5,3000 square foot complex features two high-tech classrooms that can accommodate between 25 to 30 adults or 32 children with adult chaperones each

The year-round indoor-outdoor facility provides education, hands-on activities and interactive programs for over 100,000 children, families, teachers and visitors on professionally growing and preparing vegetables, fruits and herbs in a vibrant garden setting.

A half dozen committed staff members and over 100 volunteers are helping to make the Edible Academy a ‘blooming’ success!

The Edible Academy has doubled the number of people served annually by NYBG’s edible gardening educational programs from 50,000 to 100,000.

James Boyer, NYBG vice president for Children’s Education, explained that the Edible Academy helps better people’s understanding of nutritional education.

“By growing their own vegetables such as radishes or carrots, it can help give our children and families a brand new vision and love for vegetables and their nutrition,” he expressed.

The Edible Academy’s interactive gardening activities encourage children to dig in the soil, sow seeds, water seedlings and harvest ripe produce through Dig! Plant! Grow! programs.

Over 15,000 seedlings have been planted for 500 varieties of plants throughout the season.

The Edible Academy offers Drop In Exploration; Children’s Gardening Program; Summer Art, Sustainability and Culinary Camps.

Each season provides new themes to investigate via hands-on activities, take-home projects and Fresh from the Garden Tastings’ weekly cooking demonstrations.

According to Boyer, NYBG will establish its first-ever Edible Academy Teen Internship program in 2019 emphasizing nutrition, workforce skills, gardening skills and working alongside Edible Academy professionals.

An Educational Internship also planned for 2019 will have teens working together with the Edible Academy’s Culinary Camp workers.