By: Malia Poai, Assistant Director, Volunteer Services
Sawing 2x4’s and hauling 40-pound bags of top soil and compost on a hot and humid summer day in New York City usually doesn’t appeal to most of us, but for the employees of International Strategy & Investment Group (ISI), they did it willingly…and with a smile! P.S. 50, one of The Children’s Aid Society’s Community Schools in Harlem, was the recent beneficiary of ISI’s helping hands as they built a much needed and long awaited garden in the school’s newly renovated courtyard.
ISI, one of Children’s Aid’s cherished corporate partners, took part in the construction of this garden as part of their continued effort to provide critical support to Children’s Aid programs and services. Volunteers rolled up their sleeves and combined both artistry and science as they figured out the best way to build 6-ft garden beds, combine soil, and plant fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. These helpful volunteers also gave the entire courtyard a good scrub and created a “Welcome to Our Garden” sign. When finished, elated children poured into the renovated space to literally roll around on the freshly swept turf and examine for themselves the new plantings that had taken up residency in their new garden home.
P.S. 50’s new garden will be used in conjunction with the afterschool and summer cooking programs and will help to launch the “garden to school café program” where the food from the children’s garden will be used in DOE meals. This method of “seed to table” is a key component of Children’s Aid programming and does much to expose our children and families to nutrition, valuable life skills and to improve overall health.
“Our hope is that the garden that ISI sponsored will give kids at PS 50 the opportunity to experience firsthand the joy of growing and eating fresh produce” said Ellen Barker, Program Manager for the Children’s Aid Go!Healthy Program. “For us, it completes a circle started with our Go!Chefs culinary program where the children learn how to cook delicious healthy food; and the garden closes that circle by showing them where fresh foods come from and how to grow it for themselves.”
Many, many thanks to ISI and its volunteers for their generosity, enthusiasm, and back-breaking labor that went into the creation of this garden!