Just 25 miles from their classrooms in the Bronx, high school students are studying on an 80-acre farm tasting tiny carrots, still covered in dirt, and wasabi arugula, plucked straight from the ground.
The Stone Barns Center for Food and Argriculture is an organization trying to change the way Americans eat.
A semester-long food studies course developed here is taught at Bronx Compass High school and another school in the Manhattan.
Every week, Stone Barns educators come into the city to lead the cooking labs. In a classroom at Bronx Compass, Rene Marion, the director of education at Stone Barns, talks with students about the value of farming and foraging.
"We can actually find foods that are more nurtirous for us than those foods that we've domesticated and that you can easily find in a grocery store," she said during a recent food chemistry lesson.
The school's science teacher, Ei Maung, trained at Stone Barns. She says the course covers a range of topics: "the food systems, how it's grown, how we can be more responsible citizens, how we as consumers can be much more conscious and mindful in making choices."
Students visit the Westchester County farm at least once a semester, and this year, for the first time, a few were invited back to spend a day working with the apprentice farmers and chefs-in-training at the restaurant, Blue Hill, recently ranked one of the best in the world.
"Today was super nerve-wracking," said Nicole DeJesus, a student. "But it was such a good experience, a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Working in teams, they fanned out across the farm, harvesting ingredients like radishes, green garlic and wild onions. Each team developed a recipe idea and created a dish that somewhat reflected each student's experiences, like a curry stew that was a twist on something a student's family has been making for generations. The teenagers then presented their creations to Blue Hill's chef and culinary director, Adam Kaye, who says he was very impressed.
"They were ideas that you could really tell hearing the story of the dishes, were a collaboration of the student, the farmer and the chef," Kaye said.
The students, and the center, say they benefit from the collaboration.
"This course has really developed that sense of trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone," said Tahmid Islam, a junior at Bronx Compass.
Jill Isenbarger, the CEO of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Argriculture, said her staff grows as well.
"When we work in places that are different than the places that we live and work in everyday, we learn a lot too," she said. "So the kinds of students that are at Bronx Compass communicate to us about the food culture they come from, and so many of them have incredible traditions that have been passed on."