Farming on Fifth Avenue

As astonishing as the sight of Michelle Obama digging up the White House lawn was on Friday, I spotted something equally unexpected--and just as welcome--on my way to the Union Square Greenmarket that morning: a mini-farm flourishing on Fifth Avenue at 13th Street. There, through the windows of Parsons The New School For Design gallery, were a series of planters filled with all kinds of lovely looking veggies. A sign explained that the project was sponsored by the Edible Schoolyard and the Yale Sustainable Food Project.

The exhibit didn't appear to be open yet and I was schlepping a big bag of kitchen scraps to the Greenmarket to compost, but my curiosity compelled me to wheedle my way in and snap a few photos. A few hours later, Melina Shannon-DiPietro, a director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, blogged about the exhibit on The Atlantic's new food blog, noting the crucial role that gardens have to play in reconnecting folks with nature:

People don't fall in love with abstractions but with particulars, and caring for "the environment" starts with loving a particular place. Ask the people you know who are nature lovers or staunch environmentalists where this stance began. It's likely there's a garden, a piece of woods, or a grassy patch of lawn (yes, even lawn!) in their childhood. In a garden, students learn to care for a piece of land, and they learn a new brand of environmentalism.

School gardens teach students of all ages the skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and the relationship between cause and effect. They also teach responsibility and care.

When I passed by the gallery again a few hours later on some errands there were a couple of urban aggies tending to the planters. What a lovely way to start the first day of spring!