I also had the opportunity this week to visit Samuel J. Green Charter School, the home of The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. ESY NOLA’s website explains that:

based on the original Edible Schoolyard founded in Berkeley, California by chef and food education activist Alice Waters, ESY NOLA provides students with engaging hands-on learning experiences through weekly gardening and cooking classes and school-based seasonal events that promote the food traditions of New Orleans. Students in grades K-8 participate in lessons that reinforce classroom coursework and core subjects (science, social studies, language, and math). At the Edible Schoolyard, the garden and kitchen are interactive venues where textbook lessons come to life. Through these experiences, students become stewards or our land and natural resources, and discover that teamwork yields genuine benefits in the garden, kitchen, and in life.

The work of teaching the connections between growing food, cooking fresh food, and preserving cultural food traditions is important everywhere, but couldn’t be more critical in this city where most residents do not have access to supermarkets, and where, since Katrina, and now the BP disaster, residents are justifiably worried about the quality of their air, water, and soil.

The garden at Samuel Green.

A bower laden with grapevines frames the entrance from the school building into the garden.

Garden teacher Rahn Broady teaches students how to grow food as a part of the school’s math, science, social studies and language curricula.

The lush demonstration garden at Samuel J. Green is planted in sunflowers, eggplant, garlic, canteloupe, basil, perennials, zinnias, strawberries, and okra, among many other crops. The harvest is used in the Edible Kitchen, where Chef April Neujean teaches students how to prepare culturally appropriate, nutritional dishes from the yield. April was also recently chosen to help Michelle Obama design the “Chefs Move to Schools” initiative. The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans is one example of how this resilient and beautiful city is empowering itself towards food security in the face of uncertainty, and serves as a model for other communities to do the same.