Maps, Graphs, Bees, and Butter!

It was a busy, bzz-zzy week at Heckscher Garden!

We began the week by meeting up with our buddies at the YMCA on Humboldt Street, just around the corner from the garden. Once we were all cozy, with plenty of popcorn to share, we watched a film titled What’s on Your Plate?

This documentary follows two eleven-year-old girls, Safiya and Sadie, as they explore their food system right here in New York City. The girls talk to friends, food activists, farmers, storeowners, and their own families to find out how their food ended up on their plates. They investigate where food is grown, how it travels from the farm, how it’s packaged, and how it is prepared at home, in restaurants, and even in their school lunchroom.

When it was over, we discussed the film and developed our own questions about the food we eat in our neighborhood in Williamsburg. The next day, with clipboards and pens in hand, we mapped out all the different places where food is sold or grown, and graphed the different types of stores including fast food or sit-down restaurants, bodegas or grocery stores, and community gardens. By looking at our graphs we discovered that there are a lot of bodegas, and more fast food restaurants than sit-down restaurants.

While we wandered the neighborhood, we had a chance to ask our questions at some of these places. Some asked where their fresh foods came from? Others wondered how the food was delivered? Another wanted to know how they keep the fresh foods fresh, and what happens when they go bad? Everyone enjoyed talking with the shopkeepers, and storeowners were impressed with our questions. They were some pretty great questions!

On Wednesday, we continued to explore our food system by taking a trip to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in Manhattan. There we learned that all the food sold at the market is grown within 300 miles of Union Square. We looked at a map of New York State, showing all the different types of farms that come to sell food at the market. We talked to a lot of farmers about what they grow, and how they grow it.

Marvin most enjoyed talking to the beekeeper about his honeybees and their delicious honey. We also talked to an Ostrich farmer who showed us gigantic ostrich eggs; eggs so big that they are equal to over 20 chicken eggs! That’s a lot of omelets!

We ended the week back in the garden, spending the whole day chopping, dicing, stirring and cooking. Did I forget to mention shaking? After all the ingredients for our Fricassee of Seasonal Vegetables and Greens were prepared and simmering, a few of the kids started to make different flavored butters.

That’s right, we MADE butter from scratch! With a jar, some heavy cream, a bit of salt, and a lot of shaking we ended up with four delicious flavored butters. Christopher is an expert butter shaker, if you happen to need any butter shaking tips. All of the butters were tasty and creamy, but the strawberry butter was a crowd favorite!

We enjoyed a delicious community meal; it was a great way to end the week!

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