The Edible School Garden Group, a conglomeration of teachers, parents, chefs and farmers from across the East End, is aiming to get students and their parents to think out of the box when it comes to mealtime.
The group, which promotes healthy eating by learning about and growing vegetables at area schools, is looking to publish a “foodbook” that would guide its readers to a more wholesome diet. The group, along with Slow Food East End and the Joshua Levine Memorial Foundation, launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com, asking for support to reach its $15,000 goal. As of Tuesday, the Edible School Garden Group has hit its goal, making it possible to distribute the “Nutritious Delicious FoodBook” in various formats for free. The campaign will end Friday, November 30.
The group wants to bring healthy back to the forefront of people’s minds by offering the FoodBook, which is not to be confused with a cookbook.
“This is much more than a collection of recipes and it doesn’t focus on the art of cooking,” said Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, who teaches environmental design at Bridgehampton High School and serves on the Edible School Garden Group board.
Instead, the 20-chapter book will include how to grow certain vegetables, how to stock a pantry and will present simple but satisfying meals submitted by local chefs and families. “We want to de-mystify cooking,” Ms. Fayyaz said. “What we’re doing here isn’t being carried over at home—parents need just as much guidance. We want to change the way people eat.”
Since 2009, students at Bridgehampton, and at 18 other East End schools, have been planting, harvesting and eating garden-grown vegetables as part of the “slow food” movement to take back healthy eating habits and appreciation for agriculture, which have been forgotten since the influx of fast food restaurants and processed foods.
After members of the Edible School Garden Group realized that the nutrition provided at schools wasn’t reaching into students’ homes, they decided to take action and create the guidebook.
“One of our students was just diagnosed with Type II diabetes and he was watching what he was eating at school, but when he would go home and come back in the morning his blood sugar would be off the charts,” Ms. Fayyaz said, noting that good nutrition can be hard to follow at home.
“Everyone eats out of boxes,” she said.
But the thought of using organic vegetables might seem daunting to some as prices can range a bit higher for pesticide-free and locally grown produce.
Ian Calder-Piedmonte, who is the East End Community Organic Farm outreach coordinator, a co-manager at Basalm Farms in Amagansett and an Edible School Garden Group board member, said there’s no need to pay extra. “It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat well—you can grow food in your backyard,” he said.
Mr. Calder-Piedmonte works hands-on with kids at the school districts on the South Fork that have an edible schoolyard program—Montauk, Amagansett, East Hampton, Ross, the Childhood Development Center of the Hamptons, Springs, Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, Tuckahoe, Hampton Bays, Quogue Westhampton and William Floyd—and uses his farming expertise to help tailor the group’s outreach for each district.
Last Friday, he spent time teaching Bridgehampton students how to prepare the garden and plant garlic. Kneeling down in the dirt, he explained how far apart each clove should be from the next and why. The students followed suit and soon three rows of garlic were ready to take root.
“Bridgehampton is a real success story—they know what they’re doing ,” Mr. Calder-Piedmonte of the school’s botany and agriculture program. Hoping to encourage the same energy about growing food and getting back to basics, Mr. Calder-Piedmonte said he thinks the FoodBook could be revolutionary.
“These recipes don’t rely on measurements but on combining food,” he said. “It’s about growing food and feeding yourself in a healthy way, and the FoodBook will give you tools to work with. All you need is a little sun, soil and a packet of seeds.”
To donate to the campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com and type in the Nutritious Delicious Foodbook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.