Arthur Ashe Charter School
Students at Arthur Ashe Charter School eat their lunch while gazing out at gorgeous, native and exotic shade plants, growing in the school's kitchen herb and flower garden. With a culinary garden just outside a full wall of windows in the school cafe, every single teacher, staff person, and student at Arthur Ashe experiences the beauty of growing, when entering and exiting the school, during breakfast and lunch, and often in between. Our growing space has tripled in size after we opened the Arthur Ashe Edible Schoolyard at Oak Park, a one-acre garden featuring a greenhouse for plant propagation and an outdoor classroom pavilion that will double as a garden classroom and covered space for our many special events.
Situated in the Oak Park neighborhood, Arthur Ashe Edible Schoolyard has unique access to a live oak habitat, which includes many birds. In garden class, students regularly find owl pellets and other evidence of the life cycles taking place all around them. In the new Ruth U. Fertel Outdoor Classroom, students observe local wildlife and help plant the food forest and orchard that will inhabit the one-acre garden space. The Emeril Lagasse Foundation Greenhouse will provide starts for all five of ESYNOLA's school gardens.
Inside the school at Ashe is a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, that is a lively gathering space for the entire school community. With something delicious always in the oven or being prepared on the spacious counters, welcoming, homey scents fill the room, and teachers and students alike can't seem to stay away. Up to 30 students at a time learn to prepare the fresh, seasonal produce harvested from the garden in kitchen classes. The teaching kitchen also hosts many special events ranging from Iron Chef Competitions to Family Food Nights. Our teaching kitchen buzzes with happy activity – volunteers help visiting chefs to teach third graders to prepare a lunch from ingredients they bought at the farmers market; core content teachers come in to collaborate with ESYNOLA staff on lessons that help students learn measurement, geography, and the wonders of world cuisine; families visit for the annual Sweet Potato Fest, helping to cook and shepherd students in preparing food for all to share.