Garden Group Grows a Book

At open houses and back-to-school nights last month and this, students and their families from the Bridgehampton School all the way to Montauk have been receiving a free Food Book created by the Edible School Garden Group and published with the help of Edible East End magazine.

The book is packed with healthy dinner, dessert, and smoothie recipes, gardening tips, and information on things like healthy grains and how to prepare them so that children will like them.

The product of a year-and-a-half-long effort, the publication is meant to demystify cooking, nutrition, and what you should eat and why, said JudiAnn ?Carmack-Fayyaz, a Bridgehampton high school teacher and the founder of the Edible School Garden Group on the East End. It’s more than just a cookbook, she said, because it’s not meant to just sit on a coffee table or a shelf.

Through the Edible School Yard program in which students tend to gardens on their school grounds, kids started taking more of an interest in what they were eating, said Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz. At home though, many were still eating foods that their parents were raised on, including quite a bit of processed and fast food. The Edible Garden group realized that for the project to be a success they had to reach beyond the classroom and educate parents, guardians, and other caregivers about healthy eating.

They began by soliciting recipes from students and families. Soon local chefs, many of whom are a part of the school garden group, got involved too, and a book was born. The group started a Kickstarter campaign two days before Hurricane Sandy hit to raise money for printing costs. After the storm wreaked such havoc, they were sure the fund-drive would take a dive. But there was plenty of interest in healthy eating, and with the help of Brian Halweil of Edible East End, $25,000 was raised for the initial printing of 10,000 copies, which are being distributed to 25 schools on the East End.

In addition to recipes, there are tips for sourcing fresh food, measurement tables, a list of pasta replacements, and a section on fish and meats. The Food Book addresses ways to avoid obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other diet-related ailments, information that can be helpful to people of all ages.

While it is being given out for free in schools, it will be offered at local farm stands and stores for a suggested donation of $10. Once enough money is raised, the group hopes to also print a version of it in Spanish. It can be purchased online at edibleschoolgarden. org.