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Take a Tour of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans

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The Edible Schoolyard is attached to Samuel J. Green Charter School, where 98% of students qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program.

1 The Edible Schoolyard is attached to Samuel J. Green Charter School, where 98% of students qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program.

After years of neglect, lack of funds, and then the storm, the site of the garden was in major disrepair in 2006.

2 After years of neglect, lack of funds, and then the storm, the site of the garden was in major disrepair in 2006.

In just four years, Edible Schoolyard has built a comprehensive food program for the students that includes the garden, teaching kitchen, outdoor classroom, and healthy cafeteria meals.

3 In just four years, Edible Schoolyard has built a comprehensive food program for the students that includes the garden, teaching kitchen, outdoor classroom, and healthy cafeteria meals.

It's a welcoming space just outside the classroom windows.

4 It's a welcoming space just outside the classroom windows.

The garden is used not only by students, but for neighborhood events as well.  Students learn entrepreneurial skills by selling garden produce and cooked foods at a community market.

5 The garden is used not only by students, but for neighborhood events as well. Students learn entrepreneurial skills by selling garden produce and cooked foods at a community market.

The garden features plots of many different vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers.

6 The garden features plots of many different vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers.

Sculptures by local artists incorporate design elements suggested by the students.

7 Sculptures by local artists incorporate design elements suggested by the students.

A greenhouse lets new sprouts get started.

8 A greenhouse lets new sprouts get started.

A rain water collection system is a green way to keep the plants well-watered.

9 A rain water collection system is a green way to keep the plants well-watered.

Nothing goes to waste here, as scraps go into the pile for fertilizer and students get a lesson in the biological chemistry of compost.

10 Nothing goes to waste here, as scraps go into the pile for fertilizer and students get a lesson in the biological chemistry of compost.

Benches encourage students to enjoy the space even when they're not working.

11 Benches encourage students to enjoy the space even when they're not working.

Students are introduced to many new flavors and textures as different crops come in throughout the year.

12 Students are introduced to many new flavors and textures as different crops come in throughout the year.

The outdoor classroom gives students the opportunity to learn hands-on lessons in biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, math, and history.

13 The outdoor classroom gives students the opportunity to learn hands-on lessons in biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, math, and history.

Radishes picked in the morning go into the day's lunch.

14 Radishes picked in the morning go into the day's lunch.

The cafeteria is designed to inspire good manners and appreciation of food, with flowers on the tables and real glasses, plates, and silverware in use.

15 The cafeteria is designed to inspire good manners and appreciation of food, with flowers on the tables and real glasses, plates, and silverware in use.

Students are served wholesome breakfasts, lunches, and snacks made with fresh foods.  They love their salad bar.

16 Students are served wholesome breakfasts, lunches, and snacks made with fresh foods. They love their salad bar.

Students can snack on what they harvest, in this case, satsumas.  Many have never eaten fresh fruit before joining the program.

17 Students can snack on what they harvest, in this case, satsumas. Many have never eaten fresh fruit before joining the program.

Peanuts from the garden are bagged for a special treat for the students who've worked hardest that week.

18 Peanuts from the garden are bagged for a special treat for the students who've worked hardest that week.

A brand new teaching kitchen is a place for students to learn about nutrition and master kitchen skills.

19 A brand new teaching kitchen is a place for students to learn about nutrition and master kitchen skills.

Students find connections with their other academic subjects in the kitchen, and learn to appreciate the rich food heritage of their city.

20 Students find connections with their other academic subjects in the kitchen, and learn to appreciate the rich food heritage of their city.

A case of cookbooks provides inspiration for new recipes and helps students learn about unfamiliar cuisines.

21 A case of cookbooks provides inspiration for new recipes and helps students learn about unfamiliar cuisines.

Chef Teacher April Neujean says the students take their cooking seriously, and parents often ask to learn how to make the recipes at home.

22 Chef Teacher April Neujean says the students take their cooking seriously, and parents often ask to learn how to make the recipes at home.

New Orleans had a lot of rebuilding to do after Hurricane Katrina, literally and spiritually. The Edible Schoolyard at Samuel J. Green Charter School shines as an example of a place where people have done both with incredible results, creating a beautiful garden that serves the both the school and the surrounding community as a space for learning, sharing, and, of course, for fresh wholesome food. The Emeril Lagasse Foundation is a proud sponsor of the program, and last week while I was in town for Emeril's Carnivale du Vin, I was lucky to join ELF Executive Director Kristin Shannon as she led a tour alongside Kitchen Director April Neujean. I hope you'll be inspired by these photos and the story they tell and consider helping this worthy program as well.

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