The mission of Edible Schoolyard New Orleans is to teach children to make healthy connections to food and the natural world.

Our aim is to ensure the long-term well being of students, families, and school communities by:


Bringing hands-on kitchen and garden classes into the school curriculum and culture


Maintaining beautiful school gardens that stimulate students’ curiosity


Supporting core academic learning in garden and kitchen environments


Inviting students, families, and the community to enjoy local food at joyful events


Cultivating safe spaces for social and emotional development



Edible Schoolyard New Orleans envisions generations of New Orleans children who have healthy relationships with food, the natural world, themselves, and their community.



These are the cornerstones of the edible experience at FirstLine Schools:
  • Food education is taught together with core academics.
  • Children learn by doing.
  • Health and wellness contribute to the success of the whole child.
  • Beauty is the language of caring.
  • Local farms and sustainable farming practices are an important part of our past and future.
  • School food reform supports the education and wellness of the whole child.
  • Communities are a vital part of our recipe for success.

Program Goals & Objectives

It is our goal for students to be happy, healthy children. 

Here are some themes from ESYNOLA’s Program Goals & Objectives of what we aim to give children through our program:
  • Responsible decision-making
  • Understanding and managing emotions
  • Setting and achieving positive goals
  • Enhanced leadership skills
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Belief in ability to create joy for themselves and others
  • Awareness of social and built environment, how it impacts physical health, and ability to make healthy choices
  • Access to fresh and nutritious foods in school
  • Knowledge of how to prepare food that is healthy, culturally diverse, and affordable
  • Knowledge of how to grow and harvest edible plants
  • Willingness to try new foods
  • Increased intake of nutrient-dense calories
  • Appreciation for local and international food culture
  • Increased commitment to conservation and stewardship
  • Meaningful and stable relationships with adults
  • Adult role models from diverse backgrounds
  • Meaningful relationships with other students
  • Collaboration with peers
  • Improved relationship skills
  • Consistent sharing between students, teachers, parents, and community members
  • Sense of belonging to natural world and sense of stewardship
  • Positive relationships with community volunteers
  • Parent involvement
  • Knowledge of how food affects the human body, communities, and the environment
  • Knowledge of food systems
  • Increased nutrition knowledge
  • Stable learning environment
  • Knowledge of life science and social studies
  • Opportunities for inquiry and experiential learning


Samuel J. Green Charter School

The seeds of the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans program are planted by members of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, who teach gardening at New Orleans Charter Middle School pre-Katrina. After the storm, program founders Cathy Pierson, Karin Giger, and Randy Fertel welcome Chef Alice Waters to the newly reopened Samuel J. Green Charter School. Waters suggests that Green be the first school to replicate her model of “edible” education. Green’s leader, Dr. Tony Recasner, hires Donna Cavato to start the garden and culinary program and call it Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. The garden is built by many volunteers, and a teaching kitchen is funded by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

Arthur Ashe Charter School
2007 (at present site since fall 2012)

In 2012, Arthur Ashe Charter School is relocated to a new building on the former site of Bienville School. The Oak Park Neighborhood Association, the ESYNOLA Task Force, and many volunteers help us create a plan for a one-acre edible garden and a teaching kitchen. We build a greenhouse with funds from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and an outdoor classroom funded by the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation. In 2013, the Ashe ESYNOLA team throws its first family and community school harvest extravaganza, Sweet Potato Fest.

Langston Hughes Academy
Founded 2007, became part of the FirstLine network in 2010

Volunteers build a small garden at Langston Hughes Academy, which becomes a FirstLine School and part of the expanding Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. School leaders welcome goats, chickens, and a pot-bellied pig to the family. With support from George Wilson of Barriere Construction, we build an outdoor classroom. We begin hosting our growing annual fundraiser, An Edible Evening, here in 2013.

Phillis Wheatley Community School
2010 (at present site since 2014)

Our small garden program at John Dibert Community School grows when Dibert moves into a new building in Treme and becomes Phillis Wheatley Community School. We partner with our neighbors, the Leah and Edgar “Dooky” Chase family, to plant a “Gumbo Garden.” A larger garden and outdoor culinary teaching space is in the works with help from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, EDR architects, and other generous funders in summer 2019.