Got to Get Ourselves Back to the (Edible) Garden

Photograph from last year's Edible Garden is courtesy of Jupiter Images
Photograph from last year’s Edible Garden is courtesy of Jupiter Images

It’s perhaps a sign of our food-centric times that, starting this weekend and running through October, the New York Botanical Gardens is all about growing, cooking and eating good food—or in their photosynthesis-friendly patois, demonstrating “the bounty, economy, and nutritional value of edible plants.”

Launched last year, The Edible Garden enjoyed such a flattering response that this year’s incarnation runs for nearly four months. (We liked it so much, in fact, we decided to become a media sponsor this time around. After all, we do share the name Edible.)

There will be kitchen gardens from around the world (China, Italy, Mexico and America), daily healthy cooking demos for families, a Greenmarket, ingredient-specific speakers and weekend Tasting Terraces packed with pickle people, master granola bakers, vegetable preservers and organic cheesemakers and butter churners like the Empire State members of Organic Valley, and other farmers, writers and food entrepreneurs from near and far.

We’re particularly psyched that this weekend’s kickoff Get Out the Grill features Edible chef allies like Dan Barber (of Blue Hill and cheese plate politics fame) and Mike Anthony (of Gramercy Tavern local meat department fame), not to mention a Tasting Terrace display from two of our favorite tangerine growers. Those are Lisa Brenneis and Jim Churchill of Churchill Orchard, progenitors of the Ojai Pixie Tangerine (a tiny, sweet, easy-to-peel, perfect-for-snacking bonbon), who toted 750 pounds of fruit with them on the plane. That’s 30 carry-on bags, by the way.

But this weekend is just the beginning.  The spread of happenings from now through October 17 is so impressive (check here for the full schedule), and the Botanical Garden’s 250-acre spread is so diverse, there’s really something for everyone, whether they live to eat or not. (Plus all ticket sales benefit the Children’s Gardening Program at the New York Botanical Gardens.)

With school out, bring the whole family to Value Weekdays, Tuesdays through Fridays, where adults get in for $6, children for $1, members for free, to access all the garden exhibitions, cooking demos, and the Celebrity Chef audio tour.  Cooking for Kids happens on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Cooking for Your Health is every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (And every Wednesday, the Garden hosts a Greenmarket.) Cooking for the Season, with chefs like Alexandra Zissu, author of The Conscious Kitchen, is Thursdays at 2 p.m. And at 2 p.m. on Fridays,  Whole Foods Market brings innovative recipes and fresh ingredients to you with weekly cooking demonstrations.

Or maybe bring your food-focused sweetheart on a date to Garden-to-Table weekends ($20 for adults, $8 for children, members for free) offer even more cooking (and eating) with cooking demonstrations at 1 and 3 p.m., and home gardening demonstrations at 2 p.m.

On Saturday, July 3, Jansen Chen, executive pastry chef, Oceana Restaurant, goes to work on berries. On July 10, Cathy Erway, author of The Art of Eating In the  takes on rhubarb. On July 18, Louisa Shafia, author of Lucid Food, tackles summer squash.  On July 25, can, pickle and preserve with Eugenia Bone, author of Well-Preserved. And that’s just July!

But, back to this weekend. Ojai Pixie growers Lisa and Jim said “we would love to invite all our New York friends but this isn’t our party.” They did say that they’d love to meet any Edible readers, not to mention any New Yorkers who have ordered citrus from them through the mail. So, when you get to the Tasting Terrace this weekend, say hi from Edible and they will have a free gift to offer you.

Brian Halweil

Brian is the editor at large of Edible East End, Edible Long Island, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. He writes from his home in Sag Harbor, New York, where he and his family tend a home garden and oysters. He is also obsessed with ducks, donuts and dumplings.

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