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Big Nutrition Comes to the Big Apple, And to Your Home

Kids at Edible Schoolyard NYC
By Kathleen Cassanova for Edible Schoolyard NYC

Just as Alice Waters famously did for Berkeley, California over 15 years ago, Edible Schoolyard NYC is bringing the delicious concept of an edible education to the Big Apple. Since establishing the organization in 2010, both our garden and our program have grown immensely. Edible Schoolyard NYC partners with public schools to build gardens and kitchen classrooms where children can engage in hands-on, real food learning. Our goal is to provide students with the knowledge, skills and environment required to make healthier choices and change the way they eat…for life.

In New York City, nearly 50% of the public school students are obese or overweight, and over three million residents live in communities with severely limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Motivated by these statistics, we transformed a parking lot at P.S. 216, an elementary school in Brooklyn, into a half-acre organic garden that now boasts more than 60 varieties of plants. To catch a glimpse of our groundbreaking ceremony, check out our video:

At P.S. 216, all 550 students, from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, get their hands dirty growing, harvesting, and eating fruits, vegetables, and grains, all with the goal of learning how sustainable, organic food choices can transform their health and the environment. One student, Isaac recently told us that, “Before I came to this school I didn’t eat anything, no fruits or vegetables. Now that I’ve come to the garden, I’ll try anything”. This spring, our students will begin participating in monthly kitchen classroom lessons and they can’t wait to continue learning about how to prepare healthy, fresh food.

And it isn’t just our students who are having all the fun; Edible Schoolyard NYC also offers resources and events for parents and the greater school community. Our students and their families love learning recipes that the whole family could make and enjoy together. For a little edible education of your own, here’s a late-fall recipe for you and your family to try.

Edible Schoolyard NYC’s Cranberry Bean Gratin (6 Servings)
Cranberry beans are not only fresh right now at your local farmer’s market, they also have a gorgeous color, rich, buttery texture, and a whole host of antioxidants. Also, shelling the fresh beans is a great task for the smaller helping hands in your kitchen!

1. Shell the beans (you’ll want about 1¼ cups beans).
2. Cover them with 2 inches of fresh water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and skim off any foam.
3. Simmer gently for 2 hours or so until the beans are tender (you can also add more water as they cook, if necessary). Season with salt, to taste.
4. Set the beans aside and let them cool in their liquid. Meanwhile, finely dice:
               ½ onion
               1 small peeled carrot
               1 small celery stalk
5. Heat in heavy-bottomed pan:
               ¼ cup olive oil
6. Add the diced vegetables and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, then add:
               4 garlic cloves, sliced
               6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
7. Cook for 5 minutes and then stir in and cook for another 5 minutes:
               ½ cup chopped tomatoes (you can use either fresh of canned organic)
8. Drain the beans, saving the liquid. Mix the beans with the vegetables and put into a medium-sized gratin or baking dish. Taste for salt, and add back just enough bean liquid to almost cover the mixture. Drizzle with:
               ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
9. Cover with:
               ½ cup of toasted breadcrumbs
10. Bake for 40 minutes in a preheated 350F oven, checking occasionally. If the gratin appears to be drying out, spoon the excess bean liquid at the sides of the gratin dish to avoid getting the crumbs wet.

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1 comment for “Big Nutrition Comes to the Big Apple, And to Your Home

  1. December 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    We are so honored to be featured on Smarter Life, Better Planet! Cranberry beans are probably a bit hard to find this late in the season, so feel free to replace the beans with cranberry beans. Just cook them and enjoy!!!!

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