PARK SLOPE — Talk about a bumper crop.
The school garden at P.S. 107 has won a citywide environmental award that comes with a $10,000 windfall, the city's Department of Sanitation announced Monday.
The K-5 school was a top competitor in the city's Golden Apple awards, which are awarded annually to schools that excel at environmental projects such as recycling, waste reduction and beautification. The projects must combine academics with environmental stewardship.
P.S. 107, on Eighth Avenue and 14th Street, took home the citywide prize in the "Team Up to Clean Up" category. The winning project was the school's Sunshine Garden, which students, parents, teachers and custodians built together in 2007.
"It feels great to win the award," said P.S. 107 science teacher Steven Tomsik in an email. Even though the garden is small and has some problems, such as a lack of sunlight, those obstacles haven't stopped it from becoming a focal point for the school, Tomsik said.
"It has become a meeting point for classes, after school programs, parents at dismissal...[It] functions as more than just a teaching tool — which it surely is — supplying the school with some needed green space and a chance for kids to see firsthand how they have a say in beautifying their communities," Tomsik said.
The modest garden, made of planters tucked into a corner on the school's concrete lot, has yielded big results. Teachers use it as a resource for science lessons and nutrition education, and it's helped P.S. 107 improve the quality of its school lunch program, according to the Department of Sanitation. Students have even used produce grown in the garden to make salads.
The garden has been in the spotlight before. The Daily News wrote about the garden in 2009 when one of its planters was stolen, and the garden was featured in first lady Michelle Obama's book "American Grown." P.S. 107 students appeared on "Good Morning America" with the first lady.
Principal Eve Litwack said P.S. 107 will use the prize money to sustain the garden in the years to come and build science curriculum around it.
"It's wonderful to receive this award because it recognizes the years of service the parents and teachers have put into making our Sunshine Garden and our related recycling projects a relevant and important part of our school's culture," Litwack said.