Still Growing after Hurricane Sandy on Coney Island

By Julie Parker-Dickerson

The Coney Island Garden Program, now fully recovered after Hurricane Sandy, is a growing success. After the garden was destroyed by the 2012 superstorm, program director Ramy Fakhr and a dedicated team of teachers, parents, and students sought out help from the National Gardening Association, Seeds of Change, Whole Kids Foundation, and Captain Planet Foundation and received nearly $13,000 in funding.

Now in it's second year, this productive collaboration between PS 90 and YW of New York City, has over 100 dedicated participants. Year round, kindergarten through fifth grade students participate in programming for an average of five hours each week. From the annual event ″salad fest″ to insect investigation, garden programming finds it's way both in and outside of the classroom. The impact on students has been tremendous, ″Since the start of the program we've seen huge changes in our students' understanding of the natural world, food, and their own nutritional choices. Students can now identify plant parts, perform basic cooking skills, and have a much clearer grasp of connections between plants and food,″ comments program director Ramy Fakhr.

Much of the programming is based on students' interests. Equipped with magnifying lenses and clipboards, 4th and 5th grade students investigated the garden's ecosystem. Students gathered and recorded their findings through garden journals. Based on these interests teachers introduced earthworms and composting, making this creature a favorite of the young gardeners at Coney Island.The exciting culminating event ″Salad Garden Fest″ was an opportunity for students, parents, and staff to share in the harvest by digging up carrots, harvesting lettuce, and ultimately creating enough salad for everyone to enjoy. Programming included still-life drawings of the harvest, voting on favorite vegetables, a scavenger hunt, and cooking stations.

Learn more about the Coney Island Garden.

Plant the seeds for the next generation of gardeners. Please consider a generous donation to the National Gardening Association.

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