The Lehman Edible Garden | Innovation Grantee


The Lehman College Adult Learning Center (ALC), one of three Innovation Grant recipients, was rewarded by the National Literacy Directory for its creative solution to a common literacy challenge: bringing together native and non-native English speakers to learn from one another. Learn more about ALC’s program below, and click here for more examples of innovative literacy programming.

The Lehman Edible Garden

lehman-logoFor close to 30 years, the Lehman College Adult Learning Center (ALC) has been one of the leading adult education programs in New York City. ALC’s 600+ students mostly come from the Bronx neighborhoods and represent a diverse set of cultures and languages. ALC enrolls equal numbers of English language learners and native English speakers, which poses unique challenges and opportunities for learners and teachers to engage in reciprocal learning.

To coordinate a language learning experience that can bring together students from all of ALC’s classes, ALC created the Lehman Edible Garden. ALC knew some of its students were farmers in their native countries and could help out those who had never before planted, tended, or harvested an organic herb or vegetable garden. For the non-native English speakers, this is an opportunity to find the language needed to communicate in a way that is very different from language learning in the classroom.

In addition to teamwork and language skills, students also learn the necessary math skills involved in plotting areas of the garden and in following recipes in the kitchen (the students also attend a cooking class to prepare their bounty in a professional-grade kitchen at the Health Sciences Department at Lehman College). Further, the Lehman Edible Garden, along with 30 other Bronx community gardens, has collaborated with Grow NYC to grow Serrano peppers to produce Bronx Greenmarket Hot Sauce, which is sold throughout the city. A portion of the proceeds provides a small stipend to the Lehman Edible Garden students.

ALC will use its Innovation Grant to purchase a cold frame that will extend its garden’s growing season and allow its students to experiment with three-season gardening, permitting ALC to offer garden classes all year long.

The National Literacy Directory is a community of innovative leaders, learners, educators, and student-champions. NCFL is amazed time and again at the stories and strategies of success that come pouring from the Directory’s more than 7,000 literacy and learning organizations each time it accepts Innovation Grant applications to recognize innovative solutions to persistent challenges. To find out more about the National Literacy Directory’s grant opportunities, subscribe to the National Center for Families Learning’s monthly e-newsletter. To learn about joining the Directory or creating an account, click here.