Edible Schoolyard Draws Activists, Pols and Celebs

John Lyons and Jake Gyllenhaal help children plant the first tree in the garden.

The Edible Schoolyard, an experimental educational program to bring children closer to their food sources, has officially launched its first New York City location at P.S. 216 at 350 Avenue X, with a dedication this morning that brought educators, activists, politicians and celebrities to Gravesend.

Construction began on the $1.6 million project in September, and this morning children played and planted, kicking the smell of dirt and wood-chips into the air. Media and parents flocked around them snapping photos and taking video, following a half-hour of speeches from some of the project’s backers.

Film producer John Lyons oversaw the day’s events, introducing the Edible Schoolyard founder (and renowned chef) Alice Waters, Councilman Dominic Recchia, Borough President Marty Markowitz, P.S. 216’s Principal Celia Kaplinsky and Christiane Baker, executive director of the Edible Schoolyard New York project. [Video of speeches after the jump.]

Sitting in the front row was friend to the project Jake Gyllenhaal, the Oscar-nominated actor who has been helping raise funds for the citywide initiative.

Organizers are hoping to have Edible Schoolyard projects in 25 schools in New York City, and at least one in every borough. Councilman Recchia, who is going to stay involved in the project and helped direct $1 million towards it, said no other sites have been chosen yet. For more on the Edible Schoolyard project, visit the website.

Video of the speakers during the dedication of P.S. 216’s Edible Schoolyard:

Here’s our photo gallery of P.S. 216’s Edible Schoolyard dedication:

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