Garden Kitchen Lab

The Garden Kitchen Lab is a backyard-to-table educational program for underserved communities. Our mission is to give youth and their families access to healthy and locally grown food through starting and sustaining food-producing gardens. This hands-on multi-disciplinary program puts the power in the hands of community citizens, so they understand the link between food production, the environment and their health, and take ownership of their nutrition.


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GROW Brooklyn Festival featured on BRIC TV

Earlier this year the Friends of Garden Kitchen Lab and Oxfam America Action Corps decided they wanted to share the philosophy and activities of the Garden Kitchen Lab with the broader community, so we set about to create a summer festival. NYC ParksCitizens Committee for New York City and the Seniors Group of the St. John’s Recreation Center joined forces with like-minded organizations in a fun-filled urban farming, culinary and technology festival to encourage young and old alike to embrace the garden-kitchen-lab movement at our first annual GROW Brooklyn Festival.

The GROW Brooklyn Festival showcased organizations who came together to bring greater awareness to the importance of healthy and locally grown food, as well as activities that encouraged children to explore technology, sustainability and environmental issues.

We also had the support of our local community leaders Brooklyn Council Member Robert Cornegy and Laurie Cumbo.

And BRIC TV, an award wining Brooklyn cable TV station invited the Friends of Garden Kitchen Lab to their studios to learn more about our work with the community the Garden Kitchen Lab program.

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Please like the GROW Brooklyn Festival on Facebook!

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Swale Food Forest & the Garden Kitchen Lab

This fall Swale and the Garden Kitchen Lab hosted a free public meal showcasing salads, herbal teas and roasted butternut and delicata squashes from Swale’s floating food forest and the Garden Kitchen Lab. The event took place at Pier 6 in Dumbo and we had hundreds of people enjoying an afternoon of foraging and interacting with a public food-forest-park setting where people harvested and ate their own food.

Swale is a collaborative floating food forest where people may visit, partake in the care taking process and learn about food sustainability. Created by artist Mary Mattingly, Swale functions as both an evolving sculpture and a tool by producing healthy food at the intersection of public art and utility. Visitors to Swale will see persimmon, bok choy, yucca, onion, tomatillos, herbs and other perennial fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. Rainwater is collected from the rooftop of the Biome Arts Greenhouse Theater, a pavilion that serves as a performance space, activist meeting hall, and artist gallery aboard Swale.

Learn more about Swale on our Public Art page and see other Swale-based events here.

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Foraging in Crown Heights

The Garden Kitchen Lab children went foraging to the Harmony Park, and learned about the African Blue Basil flower, a plant pollinated by bees and which is good to eat raw, and a great addition in salads and cooked lentils. Nettles! An amazing plant to make delicious pesto! It is incredible that this plant grows wild in city parks and forests upstate, these leaf tastes like basil and you can tell why is it used to make pesto, is really really good in flavor. And finally Dandelions, the entire plant is edible and super nutritious, but this time we only tried the flower, the children loved it! It is a sweet in flavor and I find it to taste like squash. Dandelions produce copious amounts of nectar and pollen and are an important source of food for bees. These flowers pollinates itself. After foraging we went to the center’s kitchen and had chopped mango with Dandelions and African Blue Basil.

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