Tastings from East Hampton’s finest restaurants, clam, wine, vodka bars and music by the Nancy Atlas Project will mark the third annual Taste of Land and Sea benefit to aid and the Springs Seedlings on Friday.
“It’s not a stuffed shirt event,” says Project MOST executive director Tim Bryden. Though Bryden grows serious explaining the benefit’s concrete purpose, “This is a critical fundraiser to help us meet the needs of children and working parents.”
After 11 years of providing after-school enrichment programs for hundreds of children in the East Hampton, Wainscott, and Springs School Districts, Project MOST, which stands for Making the Most Out of After -School Time, is facing $241,000 in state budget cuts.
“Our community envisions high quality programs for children,” Bryden said, referencing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget cuts which slashed state education spending by $1.3 billion. “Our community has to fill the void.”
Irena Grant whose daughter Marketa, now in fifth grade, and son Morgan, a second grader, both participate in Project MOST, credits diverse activities such as star gazing, pottery, and fashion (complete with catwalk) as “enriching her children and opening horizons.”
According to Grant, Project MOST provides a range of activities most parents would be unable to coordinate or afford.
Kathy Bennett, whose 9 year old grandson Tavian has participated in Project MOST since the death of his mother Jessica in 2006, grows misty-eyed expressing her gratitude. “They’ve done a great job with him here. Somehow they always know what to do.”
Proceeds from the benefit, which will be held at the starting at 7 p.m., will also aid The Springs Community Seedlings Project.
Founded in 2008, Seedlings has partnered with Project MOST, the District, parents, restaurants, and farms to build a greenhouse and outdoor garden where children learn to cultivate land and harvest food.
Project MOST participants, busy coloring at picnic tables adjacent to the garden, say they love the garden because they “get to harvest plants and eat fruit.” Without Project MOST, the children agree, they would be at home “bored watching TV.”
Project MOST’s first ever summer program, The Springs Seedling Environmental Summer Program, will also utilize the garden and greenhouse. Funded by a $51,000 grant from the Levitt Foundation, summer learning participants will harvest and cook food, study farming and environmental issues, and visit the East Hampton Shellfish Hatchery.
According to Bryden, the Program, which will serve 40 children from the third through eighth grades, will “help kids become good stewards of nature.”
Charlotte Sasso, owner of in Amagansett and patron of Project MOST, said, “The experiences kids get through Project MOST make them better students and better citizens.”
“There are two ways to help,” said Bryden, “Be a sponsor or buy a ticket.” Individuals can purchase tickets for the Taste of Land and Sea benefit for online or at the door for $75.