Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School Garden Gears Up for New School Year!

With the new school year starting next week, everyone is busy getting ready! In the garden this means, taking stock of what's still thriving, what we can plant for the Fall season and what needs to be harvested. We have plenty to do once our Garden and Cooking Club resumes and I can't wait to see the excitement from some of our students at how the small seeds they planted in the Spring grew into gorgeous carrots, beets, melons, tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers over the summer.

This school year we're excited to have even more nutrition education in place to help our students understand the basics of why we eat what we eat. We're also really looking forward to a Food Science and Health Fair to celebrate Food Day on October 24th along with groups from around the country. We are excited that Food Day's goal "to transform the American diet—to inspire a broad movement involving people from every corner of our land who want healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way," mirrors our own mission to make good food more accessible to our community through hands on education. To find out how your student or class can participate please send us an email and be sure to visit the Food Day website ( to learn more about how they define "real food."

As we all get ourselves back in gear for the new school year, we wanted to remind parents and students that this blog is a great place to check in on what's happening around health and wellness at Promise Academy and throughout HCZ. We also wanted to remind you that you can find our updated school cafeteria menus here, and that if your student or child needs to file a Food Allergy Action Plan you can find the forms and all the instructions for that in our FAQ section here. One final note, please remember that students are not allowed to eat outside food or drink here at HCZ and Promise Academy. As always we know that it takes a whole community to create a healthy nutrition environment and we are so grateful for your support! See you in the lunch line or the garden very soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tomato Time!

This time of year is one of a gardener's favorites for the simple fact that nearly every trip outside yields some newly ripe tomatoes to pick and enjoy. It's considered common knowledge that summer tomatoes, fresh off the vine and warmed by the sun are unmatchable in taste, texture and put all those wanna-be-but-unfortunately-bland supermarket tomatoes shipped halfway around the world to shame.

The Harlem Children's Zone student gardeners have been sampling tomatoes in their raw, pure state--from tiny cherry ones to big, juicy heirloom varieties--and loving it! In our cooking club, we've made Creamy Gazpacho, Tomato Salsa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad with a classic vinaigrette, and Pan con Tomate. This round up of articles from the New York Times is a great source of ways to use your tomato harvest, whether you are gathering it in the garden or the farmer's market, enjoy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eating Locally and Seasonally

"Think globally, eat locally." Right now, most of the food we eat travels an average of 1500 miles from the farm to our plates. That's half way across the country! When you go into a supermarket you can buy anything you want, whenever you want it. You wouldn't even know there were seasons! But what if we ate mostly what was in season and grown in our local region? Many people think eating locally and seasonally is a good idea because it's better for communities, farmers, the environment, and our taste buds. Eating locally means adjusting our diets to nature and the seasons. It means enjoying fruits and vegetables at their peak and experimenting with new vegetables when familiar ones are out of season. Many foods grow in different places and at different times for various reasons, primarily differences in regional climates.

Growing Food, 2007 Teachers College Columbia University

Please visit NYS Dept of Agriculture and Markets for the harvest calender: