Wellness In the Schools @PS33

This year we were assigned a new partner school – PS33 in Chelsea – for our collaboration with Wellness in the Schools (WITS). We were excited to learn that they have various types of garden projects in the works at the school. I went for my first visit last week to meet our new Chef Instructor, Kisha, and to help out with the tail end of Tomato Labs in the cafeteria. Per usual the tasting of Simple Tomato Sauce and Whole Wheat Penne was a smash hit with the kids and many were coming back for seconds until the pot was scraped clean.

Simple Tomato Sauce recipe. Ingredients. 4 cloves garlic, grated. 4 tbsp olive oil. 15 Roma tomatoes, diced. Salt and pepper to taste. Fresh basil for garnish. Procedure. Heat olive oil in a medium pot on medium heat. Add grated garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the diced tomato and any leftover juice to the pot. Bring to a strong simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove cover and simmer another 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender or carefully transferring to a blender, blend sauce until smooth. Simmer more if you'd like a thicker consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with basil.

I also got to take a tour of the raised bed garden. The garden has a wide variety of vegetables and herbs that WITS uses for tastings and for educational purposes, in conjunction with the teacher who manages the space and uses the garden as a teaching tool for the science curriculum. The balmy October temperatures had the garden in full swing with galinsoga spinach, radishes, and late-ripening tomatoes. They also have a rotating compost bin to teach kids about the lifecycle of plants and soil.

Raised bed garden and potted plants at PS 33.

Kisha and the principal also told me that an indoor hydroponic garden would be started in January to keep the students engaged in growing through the winter months. There is a plan to build more raised beds on the rooftop where there is more sunlight, and the amount of produce grown can be donated to a soup kitchen across the street. All in all, it was great to see a school with so many types of gardens and plans of expanding their growing capacity in order to support the local community.

We look forward to the year ahead collaborating with WITS and PS33. It is great to be a part of a program in a school with so much ambition and consideration for the future of sustainable agriculture and healthy living. Stay tuned for recipes and updates from December’s upcoming Veggie Chili Lab!