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Students start classes in Elizabeth St. Garden

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Pitching in during the pandemic — and showing just how vitally important those rare open green spaces are right now amid the “concrete jungle” — the Elizabeth St. Garden is hosting young students from nearby P.S. 130.

The first class visited the Little Italy garden on Thurs., Nov. 5.

Outdoor learning has been used successful before in New York City, notably during the tuberculosis outbreak in the early 20th century.

Joseph Reiver, the garden’s director, filled The Village Sun in on the garden’s new effort.

“The first class had six students in it,” he said. “Moving forward this class will be visiting the garden one to two times per week, depending on the teacher’s schedule with their regular in-person classes. It’s my understanding that in general, most of the public school classes are still virtual. There are more teachers who have expressed interest in the program and so we expect to expand the visits as we move forward.

“We’re working with the teachers directly to build a curriculum that integrates the idea of outdoor learning and what it means to have a community garden as a piece of nature in an urban environment: benefits of nature in the city and community stewardship to start. We’re planning on bringing back DIY composting and outdoor art classes based on nature, both of which were workshops we held in the garden for our spring series with P.S. 1 and P.S. 130 in 2019.

“It’s important for the garden to offer these classes as a means of support to local public school students and teachers alike,” Reiver said. “A visit to the garden can be both educational and fun, serving as a mini field trip while offering the unique opportunity of learning in a safe and green environment like the garden. Some parents may still not feel safe letting their children go to learn indoors yet, especially as we brace for an increase in infection rates. Either way, students need time outdoors after being inside and learning in front of a computer screen for extended periods.

Students from P.S. 130 enjoying an open-air class in Elizabeth St. Garden. (Courtesy Elizabeth St. Garden)

“Reopening the schools has been a tremendous effort,” Reiver said, “and public schools should be getting all the support they need and more from our city government. We hope that in providing the garden as an outdoor classroom, we offer some form of flexibility and relief for parents, teachers and students.

“Outdoor classes are also yet another opportunity to show how vital spaces like Elizabeth St. Garden are in the time of a pandemic and beyond. At the end of last week’s class, each student went to their own spot in the garden with the teacher or guardian to take a moment for peace and quiet. Everyone, from neighbors to teachers to students, needs a moment to breathe outside these days.”


  1. East Village East Village November 11, 2020

    This is great considering Deblasio & Scott Stringer’s favorite developer and donor Ron Moelis wants to knock down the park for another ugly building.

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