Arts and Entertainment

Ben Taylor to perform benefit concert for Odyssey Multiage Program

Singer Ben Taylor, the son of Carly Simon and James Taylor, will perform at a benefit concert for the Odyssey Multiage Program on Bainbridge Island in March.  - Photo courtesy of the Odyssey Multiage Program
Singer Ben Taylor, the son of Carly Simon and James Taylor, will perform at a benefit concert for the Odyssey Multiage Program on Bainbridge Island in March.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Odyssey Multiage Program

Singer-songwriter Ben Taylor is coming to Bainbridge Island in March for a benefit concert in support of the garden at Odyssey Multiage Program.

Ben Taylor, son of music legends Carly Simon and James Taylor, is currently touring in support of his latest album, "Listening." Taylor was raised in Manhattan, but his famous family spent much of their time on Martha’s Vineyard, where he developed a passion for sustainable agriculture and local, organic food.

He now lives there and contributes to an organization called Island Grown Schools, which works on Martha’s Vineyard to bring farming and locally grown food to public schools.

"I work for the farming awareness group Island Grown Initiative," Taylor said. "I believe in all of the organization's causes, but the scholastic version, Island Grown Schools is the one that's near and dear to my heart.”

He wrote in 2012 on The Huffington Post: “Eating locally grown foods is a great way of being able to understand and support the quality of your life. Cutting out the cost of transportation will immediately make it affordable for growers to employ more responsible agricultural practices, and incentivize people (who need good jobs) to grow their own foods for themselves, and for the people in their communities.”

The fundraising concert is 6 p.m. Saturday, March 15 at Grace Church on Day Road.

The Odyssey Multiage Program, a public alternative school in the Bainbridge Public School District, is a learning community of 127 students in grades one through eight, and their families.

Five years ago, the teachers and students made a decision to transform a grassy play area into an organic garden. Students, families, and staff worked together with local farmers to learn how to build soil and to learn where and what to plant. A shed, greenhouse, rain catchment and irrigation systems have all been created through collaborative efforts, and an orchard was added in 2012. The garden now provides food for the community.

Every summer, when families take turns weeding, watering, and harvesting vegetables, fruit and herbs, surplus is donated to Helpline House.

Barry Hoonan teaches fifth and sixth grades at Odyssey.

“A school garden inspires kids, teachers and parents to dig their hands deep into rich soil and celebrate what good, natural food is all about,” Hoonan said.

The garden is featured in much of the Odyssey curriculum, including science, math and art. Students have forged relationships with local farmers and deepened their understanding of the importance of local produce, good nutrition, and the connection to Bainbridge’s agricultural heritage.

Sam Denlinger, an Odyssey sixth-grader, has been working in the Odyssey garden since he was in first grade.

“It’s fun working in the garden," Sam said. "And it’s important for kids to know where their food comes from.”

Third- and fourth-grade teacher Todd Erler agrees, and said the upcoming concert will provide inspiring entertainment as well as a welcome boost to the Odyssey program.

“What a natural combination, enjoying Ben Taylor's guitar and poetic verse and knowing the contribution serves a school garden project which inspires kids to learn and love nature," Erler said. "Save me a seat close to the front!”

Tickets are $20 ($50 for pre-show reception and premium seating) and are available through Brown Paper Tickets or at www.odysseyopto.org.

The show is for ages 21 and up. Doors open at 6 p.m., and wine and beer will be available for sale.

The benefit concert is sponsored by local businesses: Bainbridge Heating and Air, Bainbridge Rentals, Bainbridge Yoga House, Denise Dupree Acupuncture, Grace Church, Eleven Winery, Johnson Squared Architecture and Inside Bainbridge, along with the following individuals: Susan and Keith Bass, Sandi and Gordon Harman, Wendy Harman and Win Baker, Barbara Bolles, Heidi and Mark Watson,

Tracey and Jim Denlinger, and Naomi and David Spinak.

To learn more about Ben Taylor, visit www.bentaylormusic.com.

For more about Odyssey Multiage program, visit www.bisd303.org/domain/816.

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