Under the stars in the Langston Hughes Academy Dreamkeeper Garden, a production garden of herbs, fruits, chickens and pygmy goats in the schoolyard of the Langston Hughes Academy, 1,000 patrons attended Edible Schoolyard New Orleans’ premiere annual benefit.

Seguenon Kone welcomed guests to the venue with his signature balaphone tones, and Otis and Friends, The Light Set, Love Evolution and the Brian Quezergue Trio carried guests into the night.

Both the Patron Party and gala exclusively served Presqu’ile Wines, from a small, family-run winery located in Santa Maria, California, whose owners, the Murphy family, have deep roots in New Orleans. The Murphy Foundation is a lead sponsor of “An Edible Evening.” This year’s culinary host for the Patron Party was chef Michael Gulotta’s MoPho + Maypop, who served Sugar Snap Pea Som Tam Salad and Braised Collards in Coconut Pot Liquor with Fields Peas and Ham Hock. 37 additional local restaurants and food purveyors provided sumptuous tastings at the party, in addition to a beer garden and cocktails.

The ESYNOLA Market Table showcased garden and kitchen products created by ESYNOLA middle school students across four FirstLine Pre-K through eighth grade schools. A DIY station allowed guests to sample Edible Schoolyard-style experiential education with hands-on activities like creating herbal tea bags, making herb sachets, experiencing a worm bin, writing “Good Luck on the LEAP test” to FirstLine students and making clay food jewelry or fridge magnets with artist Remy of Remy Diamond Jewelry.

Co-Chairs were Catherine Hales and Ann Heslin. With sponsorships, patron and raffle donations, general admission ticket sales and an expansive silent auction, this year’s event reached its fundraising goal of $200,000 for the ESYNOLA program at all four PK-8 schools. Friend and Company donated a stunning jewelry package of diamond earrings and fleur de lis cufflinks, and British Airways donated round trip tickets for two to London.

A late wave of new food and hot music mixed up by DJ Brice Nice ended the evening. A plant sale featuring annual or perennial plant starts grown by ESYNOLA students and beautiful Kokedama plants provided by Luna Botanicals allowed guests to take home a bit of the natural world.

Philanthropic Fun: Learning to Grow

Dr. Stephen and Nancy Hales with Gretchen and Edgar Chase IV


Philanthropic Fun: Learning to Grow

Ben and Allison Tiller with Cathy and Hunter Pierson


Philanthropic Fun: Learning to Grow

Carol Starr and Michael Murphy


Philanthropic Fun: Learning to Grow

 Jay Altman, Ramona Luke and Greg St. Etienne


Philanthropic Fun: Learning to Grow

Katie Pedroza, Alicia Higginbotham and Casey Zainey


Event at a Glance

What: “An Edible Evening,” benefiting Edible Schoolyard New Orleans
When: Thursday, March 22
Where: Langston Hughes Academy Dreamkeeper Garden