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 2017

The Friends of Garden Kitchen Lab were honored to host the second “GROW Brooklyn Festival” on Saturday, May 20th, 2017 at the St. John’s Recreation Center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. We were delighted to receive 19 different local organizations who offered engaging interactive activities for the community. This year’s theme was Diversity Through Food. A fun-filled urban agriculture festival to encourage everyone to embrace the garden-to-kitchen movement promoting cultural diversity through cuisine. From taking seeds, seedlings and learning how to compost; to learn how to make a Venezuelan plantain bread and an Afghani veggie spring roll and tasting; to learn how to make an affordable vertical garden; or learn how to recognize local wild edibles, the community responded positively.

Approximately 300 visitors – children, families and seniors from the vicinity and from other areas in Brooklyn attended the event. Our goal was to create a fun, immersive and inspiring experience like we did last year, that empowers visitors to adopt healthy habits, try their hand at growing and eating their own food, and understand other cultures through food.

For more information on this event, please visit us on Facebook to learn more about that day and future events.

             

 


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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.

#urbangarden #food #technology #community #FriendsOfGardenKitchenLab #GardenKitchenLab #ComputerResourceCenters #CitizensCommitteeForNewYorkCity #NeighborhoodGrant #OxfamActionCorps #OxfamAmerica #SenatorJesseHamilton #GreenThumb #GlobalPartnersJunior #MayorsOfficeForInternationalAffairs #MaKeyMaKey #MITLabs #KatiesKrops #NewYorkRestorationProject #ImaniGarden #SacredWarrior #FriendsofBrowerPark #YouthFarm #JustFood #WestSideCampaignAgainstHunger #CrownHeightsFarmShare #596Acres #GothamGreens #NortheastBrooklynHousingDevelopmentCorporation

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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Winter Garden Kitchen Lab

Biologist and Natural Science educator Monica Franchy visits St. John’s and offers a one-day digital and culinary class.
Ms Franchy shows the children showed videos about how almonds grow from the perspective of a bee, the origins and nutritional benefits of the almonds, etc. and taught the kids how to make almond milk from scratch and prepare a blueberry smoothy.

The After school children filled a Q&A afterwards, so we could assess how much they did absorb from the lesson. This was a pop-up class and pilot for future Garden Kitchen Lab curriculum-building where we would like to have kids record what they learn into visual digital diaries.

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The Garden Keeps On Giving

The summer camp students designed a series of collages and drawings of what they saw and experienced in the garden, they used traditional and digital media to create their pieces.

The following are some the kid’s observations:

“Today I am so excited because we actually got to make a quinoa salad. First we were taught that quinoa comes Peru and Bolivia. Then we went downstairs and got to harvest some of the ingredients that we are using to add to the quinoa. After we went to the kitchen and started. First we chopped up the chives, then shredded the parsley and chopped the peppers. Last was the avocado. While we were chopping Ms. Fabiola was cooking the quinoa. We used a big tray to put the lettuce on the sides of the tray. Then we poured the quinoa and added the parsley, sweet peppers and avocado. Then we ate the delicious quinoa and stuffed ourselves.”

“What I did today is to harvest chives and parsley. Then we added the quinoa, avocado, red peppers, chives and lettuce. We added strawberry vinaigrette, salt and olive oil. I thought it tasted awesome.”

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July: Seeing it Grow In So Many Ways

We ended the Spring Session with the afterschool students releasing Monarch butterflies, and celebrating an early harvest. The students prepared a salad with strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, chives, Swiss chard, three types of basil, Italian oregano, spearmint and chocolate mint. The children were introduced to shiitake mushrooms; which they had not eaten before.

Here some of the observations the kids wrote on their journals:

Madisyn, 9 years old
“We planted and watered the plants and we watched them grow. We had a plant named Bessie, she was a lettuce, but she died because we planted her in the winter. Now Bessie is compost, so she is not dead anymore.” […] “I enjoyed planting because we got our hands dirty and that is what makes a good artist.” […] I learned that compost is good for the plants because it helps them grow more.”

Amir, 8 years old
“I learned that there are thousands of plants and that worms are good for plants and make their roots stronger.”

Alissa, 10 years old
“I enjoyed composting because we get to make it ourselves and we stirred it. I learned that red worms have five hearts and are good for plants because when their poop gets absorbed by the plants and makes them stronger. You can make compost with egg shells, banana peels, avocado and put it in a bin. We also made quinoa salad. The ingredients to make the salad are red pepper, avocado, parsley, lettuce. You chop everything an mix it with the cooked quinoa. Quinoa comes from Peru and Bolivia. The peasants are the ones who grow quinoa.”

Daica, 8 years old
“I enjoyed composting the most because you get to see how something is after hours and hours. What I learned in the garden is that you can plant new things and improve them.”

Ugochi, 9 years old
“I chose composting because I got to get stuff as food scraps to put in the compost bin. We planted flowers so when the bees come to get pollen from the flower it spreads the pollen to a plant.” […] “We add avocado, red pepper, parsley and lettuce. You mix the ingredients to make quinoa salad.”

Holiday, 7 years old
“I learned to plant and compost. Composting is when you put things together like tomatoes and egg shells. We planted flowers to attract bees.”

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June And Harvesting Already!

The kids have been working in the garden almost every afternoon. They have learned how to plant, how to use the tools properly, how to measure and distribute the plant area correctly, so when plants grow are not so close to each other. They really like to use the weed grabbers and have been cleaning out the area from weeds quite well.

We yield 10 pounds of vegetables already! The kids harvested lettuce, parsley and chives. With some of the produce we made a quinoa salad for twenty five kids. The children washed the veggies, chopped the chives, red pepper and the parsley. We mixed everything with organic quinoa, avocado and strawberry vinaigrette. The children loved it and everyone had seconds! An additional lesson about where does the quinoa grain comes from and who grows it was also part of the class.

The kids completed their journals writing about their experiences planting, composting and cooking. Grabbing food scraps and shredding them before adding them to the compost and looking for red worms were some of their favorite activities.

We continued planting for an early fall harvest: Radicchio, mesclun lettuce, pole beans, red bell peppers and butternut squash. Herbs and flowers: anise hyssop, lemon balm, royal blue veronica, milkweed, lambada, cosmos, flanders poppy, portulaca and honeysuckle to attract bees and butterflies.

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