The PS 84 PTA was created to cultivate an enriched, educational environment in this diverse, Upper West Side elementary school (PK-5). Unlike many New York City public schools, PS 84 has a 4,000 square foot rooftop garden—now revived and flourishing thanks to small grants and PTA fundraising efforts.
Fully embraced by students and teachers alike, the garden program, run by Sharon Kimmelman, exposes these urban children (46% Latino, 20% Black, 29% White, 2% Asian, 3% multi-racial)—through hands-on learning and classroom curricula—to fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs they might not otherwise find at home. Thanks to a grant from ATE, the program was able to go to the next step—to teach children what to do with the fruits and vegetables they’ve grown.
The program worked in three ways: 1) Through partnership with Wellness in the Schools (WITS), the entire PS 84 student body (515 students) received four cooking classes and eight recipes they could safely and affordably prepare at home. 2) ‘Seventh Period Salad Snack for Second Graders’ taught these young ‘chefs of the future’ to prepare meals with their hauls from the garden helping breed familiarity with different and available fruits and vegetables, while learning nutrition fundamentals and enjoying meals together. 3) ‘Fifth Grade Nutrition Bootcamp’ helped prepare graduating students to make better food choices by diving deeper into a nutrition curriculum integrated with the garden program.