Category Archives: Hecksher Garden

Ujima Hosts Hecksher for Garden Workday

Today the students from Ujima Garden invited the gang from Hecksher Garden to come over for a workday. The Ujima students were super excited about being team leaders and hosts. When they arrived, we quickly split up into work teams: weeding, painting, watering, harvesting and snack making. We all worked together for about an hour and a half and got a lot done. We harvested 15 cucumbers, 6 bunches of swiss chard, 18 bunches of kale, 15 bunches of collards, 11 bunches of basil and 5 bunches of Thai basil. There were also cherry tomatoes  but they all got eaten before we could count ’em.

We made 3 types of bruschetta from our harvest: tomato, pesto and sauteed swiss chard.

Thursday is our last day. We have about 15 ripe eggplants hanging off the vine and we plan on making an eggplant stirfry and serving it with a watermelon salsa.

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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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A Greenmarket Adventure

On Wednesday, we took the kids from Ujima and Hecksher to the Greenmarket at Union Square. Things got off to a rocky start as none of the kids from the YMCA showed up at Hecksher. It turned out that there was some sort of problem with the counselor/student ratio for the trip, so they couldn’t come along. We were sad that they couldn’t join us. That said, there were still 12 kids and that was about all that could fit into the education tent at one time…so perhaps it was for the best.

One of the biggest ongoing challenges for the teachers has been trying to get the partner camps’ schedules to jive with our camp’s schedule.  I have to say that the teachers have been amazingly resourceful with their ability to make everything work. Next year we will have to set our partnerships earlier to make sure that everything is clear among all the parties.

Back to the Greenmarket. It was hot! Holley (our uber dedicated Slow Food NYC vice chair)  bought a big container of lemon cider from Red Jacket to get the kids properly watered before the teacher from Greenmarket got started. Once the teacher arrived, she gave a nicely interactive presentation about farms and farmers. I was so proud of our kids. They were engaged and asked lots of great questions.

Then, we all went on a short tour: we visited Andrew and his bees (what a character!), the fish stand, the ostrich farmer, the goat farmer and lots of vegetable farmers. Most of the kids had never tried honey before and none of them had ever seen an ostrich egg. They were fascinated. Do you know how many chicken eggs fit inside an ostrich egg?

Next, we were off on a scavenger hunt to find all sorts of local treats and at the same time spend our “Snail Bucks”. Each student got a certificate to spend $2 at the stands. This, not surprisingly, was the hit of the day. The farmers were generous and they came away with bags of fruit, a cantaloupes and other goodies. Some of the kids tried their hand at bargaining and, from what I saw, did quite well!

A great trip!

!

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Worm Composting at Hecksher

Creepy, Crawly, and Fun. Here are some pictures of Sonya with her students getting the worm bins ready and saying hello to her new garden buddies.

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