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Digging Up an Appetite for Health at The New York Botanical Garden

March 12, 2015

By Annie Novak, Manager of The Edible Academy
Elizabeth Peterson-Minor, Associate Director of Foundation Relations
The New York Botanical Garden

The cold and snow could not stop the nation’s cultural institutions from celebrating the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move! this February. Founded by First Lady Michelle Obama, this national initiative gets children moving and eating healthy foods. That is exactly what they did at The New York Botanical Garden, where our Carla Hall’s Culinary Kids Week (February 16-22) coincided with the Let’s Move! festivities. Children and families participated in a variety of hands-on activities and demonstrations focused on edible gardening and healthy eating.

Carla Hall receives help from an aspiring young chef for a delicious—and healthy!—broccoli pesto. Image from The New York Botanical Garden

The event brought together partner organizations from across New York City to offer dynamic perspectives on food. To kick off the festival, celebrity chef Carla Hall, co-host of ABC’s The Chew, took to the stage with some young volunteers to make a new twist on an old favorite: a savory broccoli pesto. It was quite the hit!

Throughout the rest of the week, other professional chefs hosted daily cooking demonstrations where they wowed the crowd, offered tips and samples, and shared their stories with aspiring young cooks. Visitors also engrossed themselves in worm-based composting, potting up edible plant seeds for springtime growing at home, grinding grain, sampling herbal teas, and other activities. At hands-on workshops, children became the chefs. Their culinary creations included salads, pickles, and even homemade pasta. “Excellent, enriching program and a knowledgeable, friendly staff,” one visitor commented. The event was described as “welcoming and wonderful.”

Visitors learn how to make worm bins, a skill they can use to make compost for home gardening. Image from The New York Botanical Garden

Carla Hall’s Culinary Kids Week was presented through our Edible Academy, a platform of edible gardening-based programs that engage children, families, and teachers in the entire garden-to-table process. Thanks to support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and other generous funders, The Edible Academy will soon be part of a year-round, indoor/outdoor complex—an edible gardening hub in New York City.

Programs such as Carla Hall’s Culinary Kids Week encourage visitors to make better food choices. We believe that such initiatives offer participants personal connections with and access to healthy foods. They also teach food preparation skills to help ensure that vegetables, fruits, and herbs are a part of every child’s life. These programs, combined with the many other wonderful Let’s Move! initiatives at museums and gardens across the country, truly are building a healthier future for today’s children.

Young chefs learn how to make nutritious, colorful, and delicious salads. Image from The New York Botanical Garden

About The New York Botanical Garden
An unforgettable departure from the everyday, The New York Botanical Garden is America’s premier urban garden. Its special exhibitions, seasonal programs, and engaging activities inspire visitors of every age and interest. The Botanical Garden is an ever-changing living museum, and a showplace of natural beauty and wonder. For more information, visit nybg.org or call 718.817.8700.

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