Edible School Gardens
Following the national farm to table trend, several schools across the East End of Long Island have tried to integrate courses into their curriculum that teach students how to garden and cultivate food. From onions to butternut squash, potatoes, strawberries and greens, what is produced in the garden even becomes part of the cafeteria menu.
On Long Island, there are approximately 25 school gardens within the Edible School Garden network. The late KK (Kathy Keller) Haspel, played an integral part in the creation of these gardens on the North Fork. Her husband, Ira Haspel, believes that what she worked so tirelessly to establish is a great achievement that she was able to make a lasting legacy.
"Whenever a contract came up from a school service provider, [KK] made them include a clause saying that anything that came out of the garden had to be used in the food preparation in the cafeteria, and the school service contract people had to pay fair market value for every pound of food coming out of the garden," Haspel said. "That [has] provided each individual school garden a way of income, and a way that they could continue to buy seeds and tools to keep going."
While every school that participates has a different program, there are courses offered at every grade level from elementary school through high school. "Working in an environment like a school garden, adds relevance, rigor and relationships to education," said Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, the current president of the Edible School Gardens. "To know what food is, where it comes from and how to grow it is priceless in so many ways."