Woolly School Garden in the Big Apple

Sep 12, 2013

We know space can be super tight when it comes to schools in bustling cities like New York City but if there’s a fence or a wall, then there’s a way. And First Presbyterian Church Nursery School found a way to transformed their “baking hot” rooftop playground into a fun, learning edible garden. Once they got their Woolly School Garden program funded, they hung their Wallys to the chain link fence and began planting away.

“The Woolly Pockets are great for kids, because the 2 year olds can reach the lowest ones and the 5 year olds can pull up a block to get to the highest ones,” says Lawton. “It’s quite amazing how the kids are constantly grazing in the garden. As soon as a strawberry turns red, it’s gone,” says Lawton. Even the vegetables get gobbled: “These are the same things that children would say no to if their parents presented to them. They’d say, ‘No, it’s green,’ but here they’re constantly testing things out, things that surprise me. They really like chives.”

“The idea behind the garden, dubbed Project APPLE (an acronym for A Place for Planting, Learning, and Eating), was to introduce the preschoolers to the idea that food comes from plants. The edible garden has tomatoes and herbs, in addition to strawberries. The garden has a four-tier compost box, and the students treat the worms like pets. “They feel like caretakers,” says Lawton. “We wanted to teach them about reducing and recycling and to give them a sense that what happens underground is as important as what happens above ground.”

Photography by Nicole Franzen. Story by Gardenista.

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