The seeds of the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans’ program were planted after Hurricane Katrina when renowned Chef Alice Waters brought her revolutionary education program, which strengthens children’s connection to the environment and encourages them to make healthy food, to Samuel J. Green Charter School.
In 2006, it became the first school to replicate her model and it’s succeeding beyond expectations. It is now also located at Langston Hughes Academy, Arthur Ashe Charter School and Phillis Wheatley Community School.
According to Claudia Barker, ESYNOLA’s executive director, recent studies have shown that 96 percent of ESYNOLA students are willing to taste new foods in their classes when offered — including raw vegetables from the garden to ratatouille that they make in class.
“Looking, touching, smelling, tasting and talking about your food helps you learn about what you’re eating,” says Ro’ Shaun, an Arthur Ashe Charter School kindergartener.
Also, Tulane studies showed that students consume more fruits and vegetables than the national average: 85 percent report eating fruit the day before versus 61 percent nationally; 48 percent report eating a vegetable the day before versus 10 percent nationally.
“Edible Schoolyard New Orleans has been one of our beneficiaries since 2006 and it has been wonderful witnessing the growth and positive impact that this incredible organization has on its students,” says Brian Kish, president of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. “When children are connected to their food and learn where it comes from, they make healthier eating choices. They can then share this knowledge with their families and communities leading to increased engagement at home and a healthier community.”
“In the years that I’ve been serving kids as a gardening instructor, I’ve found that using gardening as a tool to find one’s purpose has been an overarching theme of engagement,” says Rahn Broady, lead garden educator at Arthur Ashe Charter School. “Kids want to feel that they are being useful, helpful and heard in the garden. This can range from giving students responsibility-laden jobs raging from picking pests off of a leaf, to identifying possible parasites affecting a specific caterpillar. My best outcomes arise from students that have a sense of belonging and stewardship in their garden space.”
September Topic: Native Louisiana Plants
New Orleans City Park Botanical Garden
Sept. 7, 10:00 a.m. to noon
For children ages 6 to 9 years old
483-9470 or email
Longue Vue Garden
Oct. 3, 8:30 a.m.
to 12:30 p.m.
Longue Vue House and Gardens,
7 Bamboo Road In the Green House
Annual Louisiana Iris Rhizome Sale
Greater New Orleans
Oct. 19, 10 a.m. to noon
Longue Vue House
7 Bamboo Road