Alice Waters Pays a Surprise Visit! And Other Recent Campos Children’s Garden Happenings

So this just happened today, September 30, ten minutes AFTER I left the Children’s Garden at Campos…

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Edible Schoolyard pays surprise visit to Children’s Garden at Campos!

Alice Waters–the veritable godmother of all things sustainable and local in food and farming, and the inspiration for many, many a children’s garden around the country, including our own, indeed possibly the school garden movement as it exists today–stopped by to see the Children’s Garden at Campos. Alice Waters is the chef and owner of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California and the founder of The Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. school, which according to Chez Panisse’ Web site is “a one-acre garden, an adjacent kitchen-classroom, and an “eco-gastronomic” curriculum. By actively involving a thousand students in all aspects of the food cycle, The Edible Schoolyard is a model public education program that instills the knowledge and values we need to build a humane and sustainable future. The program is nationally recognized for its efforts to integrate gardening, cooking, and sharing school lunch into the core academic curriculum. Alice established the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996 to support the Schoolyard and encourage similar programs that use food traditions to teach, nurture, and empower young people. The success of The Edible Schoolyard led to the School Lunch Initiative, whose national agenda integrates a nutritious daily lunch and gardening experience into the academic curriculum of all public schools in the United States.”

Without Alice, there would be no Children’s Garden at Campos. Or an NYC Foodscape. To have missed her by mere minutes is serendipity turned upside down. If she had arrived just a few minutes earlier, she would have seen me picking this amazing harvest from the Children’s Garden, including:

  • Musquee de Provence pumpkin
  • Super Zagross Cucumber
  • Boothby Blonde Cucumbers
  • Violetta Lunge Precoce Eggplant
  • Globe Eggplant
  • Ailsa Craig Tomatoes
  • Trophy Tomato
  • Verde Puebla Tomatillo
  • Carmagnola Pepper
  • Habanero Pepper
  • Golden Greek Pepperoncini
  • Clemson Spineless Okra
  • Star of David Okra
  • Speckled Cranberry Beans
  • Dragon’s Tongue Beans
  • Trail of Tears Beans
  • Collard Greens
  • Lacinato Kale
  • Prostrate Rosemary
  • Italian Basil
  • Thai Basil
  • Purple Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Garden Sage
  • Striped Sage

    September 30 Harvest at Children’s Garden at Campos

Waters is Vice President of Slow Food International, a nonprofit organization that promotes and celebrates local artisanal food traditions. She’s in town for the week for several Slow Food USA events, including a lunch at Roberta’s in Brooklyn on Friday. And so, perhaps I can get an invitation to her to join us back at the garden to have lunch with these delicious fresh ingredients using recipes from her eight books, including The Art of Simple Food: Notes and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution.

Other Recent and Noteworthy Events at Campos

The season is on the downswing but there are still activities for kids and adults. Last weekend, before the Climate March, Campos Community Garden hosted some workshops for the LUNGS Harvest Arts Festival. NYC Foodscape was quite busy that day hosting two workshops: the first was an urban agriculture panel at La Plaza Cultural Garden discussing  how fostering a strong New York City agriculture and food production is an effective way to address multiple climate and food justice issues, including food safety, food security, and food sovereignty. Audience members heard from people working to make it possible for NYC residents to have sources of local healthy food that we can trust and how to get access to land to grow it ourselves.

With Hunger Action Network NYC, Chef Barbara Sibley of La Palapa, Maggie Cheney of Ecostationny, Onika Abraham of Farm School NYC and Paula Z. Segal of 596 Acres.
Audience learning from urban farmers

Next up, a class in Small Space Gardening back at Campos Community Garden, including a hands-on demo of how to prep and plant in straw bales:

Workshop participants learn how to prep straw bales for growing
Adding the soil mix in two stages, stage one.
Topped off, ready to plant
Planting the bales

For more information on how to prep and plant gardens in straw, see, Straw Bale Gardening: The biodegradable alternative to raised beds, and Straw Bales Get Final Prep Before Planting

Later in the day, Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director of the New York City Community Gardening Coalition, moderated a conversation with East Village and other NYC community gardeners who grow food for their own table. Members of Campos Community Garden provided tastings of dishes prepared with ingredients grown at Campos and its Children’s Garden. Dishes included:

  • Black Bean and Corn Salad
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Cucumber and Dill Salad
  • Tomatillo Salsa
  • Indian Eggplant and Okra Stew
  • Bengali, Latino and other ethnic specialties
NYCCGC Executive Director Aziz Dehkan talking with Campos gardeners
Aziz Dehkan and Jill Poklemba of NYCCGC
Campos Gardeners sharing stories
Ahmed’s amazing cucumbers and eggplant
A table full of garden delights

IMG_8402 IMG_8401_2 IMG_8400

GrowNYC stopped by and had cooking demos, including a delicious garden gazpacho:

GrowNYC cooking demos

Plus, there were children’s activities, music, and the unveiling of Jose Landoni’s sculpture, SPIRAL

Dawoud Kringle, plays Sitar & Dilruba
a tiger!
Jose Landoni’s, SPIRAL

There is still much work to be done, including harvesting the last of the ripening tomatoes and herbs, planting fall vegetables, and prepping the beds for winter. There’s even hope/talk of  a winter bed, so stay tuned.

University Settlement Cornerstone Campers planting fall plants
Fall seedlings
A happy camper


Stop on by anytime! As you can see, you never know who is going to show up here at Campos!




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