Eat your veggies. Us adults know to do so for overall health, but children often do not, especially in neighborhoods where they aren’t always readily available. Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx aims to fix that. The surrounding community has a high rate of food insecurity, lacking access to fresh, affordable fruit and vegetables. Through hands-on gardening workshops and day camps, the academy’s goal is to educate all ages on nutrition. Newly expanded facilities by architecture firm Cooper Robertson, which adjusted its fees to accommodate the nonprofit, are now enabling the program to extend its offerings beyond the city’s growing season and accommodate more than 100,000 children and adults annually.
The firm looked to agricultural architecture to inform the project’s four structures. Across some gardens from the barn-shape teaching greenhouse, the 5,300-square-foot classroom features expansive steel-framed windows looking out to 3 acres of planting beds teeming with tomatoes, eggplants, and lettuces.
In warm weather, a garage door can roll up to an open-air pavilion, which leads to a cantilevered deck overlooking the Bronx River. “Connecting to the natural landscape drove the design,” Cooper Robertson partner Bruce Davis says. A green roof, solar panels, and composting toilets simultaneously teach sustainability, helping participants large and small themselves draw connections between our food and our earth.