An Intergenerational Garden Grown in the Bronx

Mon, May 12, 2014

BRONX, N.Y. — Karen Griffoul, Educational Coordinator, at the New York League for Early Learning's Harry H. Gordon School Annex, recalls asking some preschoolers last year where tomatoes come from.

"'An apple tree,' 'the supermarket,' 'a bodega,'" she said, recalling the responses. "Our students have never seen food growing. They just know it comes from a store or their mother or father gave it to them." A learning opportunity was beginning to blossom.

As part of an innovative organizational-wide effort to promote sustainable gardening and promote healthy eating, adults living in YAI group residences in the Bronx, as well as preschoolers, will prepare the soil and compost in four raised garden beds on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, starting at noon-1:40 p.m. at the Harry H. Gordon School Annex, 1180 E. 214th St. (718.838.5993) Children will work with child-sized wagons, pails, shovels and rakes. NYL is a YAI network member. Preschoolers have been nurturing 100 seedlings since earlier this spring in classrooms at the annex as well as at the Harry H. Gordon School on Bathgate Avenue.

Last year, the students had a bumper crop of tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables, which they shared with staff and neighbors. But now the school has four raised beds, which were built by a team of YAI staff lead by Robert Jenkins, an Assistant Supervisor at a YAI residence in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, who also works in construction and enjoys gardening in his own backyard, his colleagues, and members of YAI’s Residential Maintenance Department.

"It's going to be so great for the children and the adults," Jenkins said. "Some of the guys from our residence will be going there on weekends on a regular basis to work in the garden. It gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership."

"Our children from the Bronx have never experienced anything like this," Griffoul added. "They're making salads from vegetables they've grown from seeds. Not only are we promoting healthy eating, but they're more like to try and like a vegetable, if they've planted the seed, watered the plant and picked it."