Upcoming Events

Monday, June 28, 2010

We've moved!

We've moved! Check out our new blog at www.grantgarden.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Citrus fruits, assorted squashes and homemade ice-cream: the learning continues!

Check out these latest shots from the after-school teaching sessions.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lunch with the Seniors at Jackie Robinson

On Friday, three of us joined the seniors at Jackie Robinson Senior Center for lunch. We went with the intention of having some casual conversations with the seniors to begin to get to know them and tell them about the oral history project, On the Table, that we're working on.

The experience was so worth it! We walked into the center, said hi to Norma and made our way inside. We paid our $3.50 to the woman at the door and signed our names. Then we handed our numbers to a tall, melodious man who was calling out numbers for people to line up and approach the counter. They served us orange juice and milk, cinammon applesauce, pasta, collard greens and a fish cake. We took our fully-loaded trays and plopped down at a table where three women were sitting together and started chatting.

All three of the women were Hispanic, one from El Salvador and the other two from the Dominican Republic. Most had family living in the area, whether in Grant, in Harlem or in the Bronx, and most went back to their countries for a few months every year to be with the rest of their family. All came to eat meals at the senior center regularly. It was exciting to be communicating in Spanish and the women could not have been more friendly! We exchanged questions back and forth and found out that one of the women was illiterate. We told them what we were studying and about the Grant Garden project.

At the end of the meal the women were very pleased with our visit and asked us to come back soon: "Que se repita!" (This should be repeated!).

We're hoping that we can make this a regular thing, although we think that it's best if students go in small groups. As we get to know them we can scope out whether and who would be interested in speaking about their food knowledge in a recorded interview. Many (but not all!) of the seniors speak Spanish (but not all!). For those looking to practice speaking Spanish with a patient and affectionate audience, this is a great opportunity! In any case, it was wonderful to see that our presence was received well and we are sure that many of the seniors would love to have the company of friendly students for lunch de vez en cuando (every once in a while).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Field trip to East New York Farms

In late October a group of Columbia students and children from the Grant community embarked on a trek to East New York Farms' Harvest festival. The hour and a half subway ride out to New Lots Brooklyn was long, but the festivities at the other end made the journey worthwhile. We carved and painted pumpkins, roaster marshmallows, sampled food from the stalls at the farmers' market, took a tour of the community garden, and played many a round of tag at the playground.
The trip was a great chance to get some ideas about what we might our garden to look like.

More info about East New York Farms can be found at: http://www.eastnewyorkfarms.org/.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Academic Benefits of Knowing Your Food

This is an interesting article on the real benefits to test scores when urban students are exposed to agriculture and rural life (and for rural students, vice versa).

A Moo-Moo Here, and Better Test Scores Later

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Up and running for the fall semester

As the everyone settles into the rhythm of a new semester, we've resumed our weekly planning meetings. A number of new faces have joined the project bringing fresh ideas to the table. Welcome all!

This semester we've increased the scope of the after-school educational program, teaching bi-weekly lessons centered around nutrition, gardening and food sustainability. After the success of last year's communal meal, both Columbia students and Grant House residents have expressed the desire to have another such feast this year. Planning for the meal has thus already begun. Donations of food for the meal will be more than welcome. If anyone is interested in donating, or has any leads on potential donors, please contact us.

As far as the construction of the actual garden goes, we are currently at a bureaucratic standstill. For insurance purposes, Columbia requires us to be "housed" by a department or organization that has the authority to legally bind the University in a contract with NYCHA. We've contacted various departments throughout the university, but remain as of yet, without a "home". We are open to any ideas as to who might be able to take us under-wing or how we might circumvent this obstacle. Despite such bureaucratic frustrations, we remain optimistic and hope to see the garden built in the coming spring.

Here's to a productive semester!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Garden and Summer Classes Update

We've been busy coordinating with various NYCHA and Columbia Community Impact officials to negotiate the legal agreement between Columbia University and the NYC Housing Authority that will allow us to proceed with the garden. Currently, the discussion hinges on questions regarding the fence. How much space can we use? How high will the fence be? Who will have access to the space? These are all important questions that students and residents have discussed and will continue to discuss as the project progresses. We hope to resolve any remaining sticking points by early fall so we will be ready for fence implementation and other garden construction before winter.

In the meantime, a group of five dedicated volunteers have been running summer classes for Grant Houses youth in the Summer Day Program. Three days a week volunteers come in and work with three groups of students, the 9s, 8/7s, and 6s (by age), discussing food and gardens. Class topics have included an introduction to the Columbia Community Garden, the different parts of plants and parts we eat, composting, and the food pyramid. See pictures below of students building worm composting bins!