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Bard High School Early College

Location: New York, New York
Ages of children working on the garden: 14-18
The garden was established in April of 2009. 

Congratulations! Learn all about their garden program in their own words and by watching this short video! 

The School Garden at Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) was established in 2009, inspired by the donation of thirty trees from MillionTreesNYC. At that time, a group of parents came together to plant the tree pits with wild flowers and herbs, and extended the growing space with dozens of pots and planters. The initial goal was to transform the large, asphalt schoolyard that borders Houston Street into a vibrant, green, and beautiful space in which students and faculty could gather, learn, explore, and play. Interest in the garden grew steadily over the next two years, as students, faculty, and staff strove to advance green initiatives on campus. In early 2011, with seed money from a generous community member, the school installed ten raised beds (providing an additional 150 square feet of growing space) and hired a part-time garden teacher. That summer, garden-based programming was offered to incoming freshmen as part of the Summer Bridge Program. In the fall of 2011 we offered an elective class, Food Systems and Politics, which alternates between lessons in the garden, cafeteria kitchen, and classroom and gives students the opportunity to learn basic gardening and cooking skills while engaging in broader conversations about nutrition, community health, the environment, and food justice.

Since its inception, the School Garden has been an enormous asset, to both BHSEC and the Lower East Side community. It serves as the primary teaching space for the Food Systems and Politics class, which is now being taught to all 10th grade students as part of their advisory unit. More importantly, the garden has become a valuable and well-used resource for faculty across departments who see it as a place in which to explore topics in math, science, art, literature, history, and more.

The School Garden, however, is more than just a learning classroom. Located within the block of asphalt that also serves as a recess yard, basketball court, and event space, the garden has become integral to the school’s culture; it serves as a beautiful oasis in which students can congregate and relax and provides fresh produce that can be served in the cafeteria thanks to the Grow to Learn Garden to School Café Program. Moreover, the garden has become a favorite spot for bigger community events, like the Lower East Side Schools Music Festival, held here in May 2011, or the now annual Harvest Day.

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