Garden Kitchen Lab

The Garden Kitchen Lab is a backyard-to-table STEAM educational program for underserved communities. Our mission is to give youth 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 children, so they understand the link between food production and the environment, and take ownership of their health.

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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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Garden Kitchen Lab Bliss

In our Garden Kitchen Lab program, 7 to 10 years old, participate in preparing Coconut Almond Bliss Balls. The children learn about tropical fruits and nuts and how to prepare a healthy snack while having fun. This two part class introduces children to the countries and the farmers who grow and harvest nuts around the globe and the different kinds of pollination to grow the ingredients needed to make the recipe.

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Walnuts, almond paste, pistachios, coconut and sesame seeds are some of the ingredients used this coconut almond bliss ball recipe.
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Simiah, Alyssa, Perla and Simone making bliss balls at the kitchen’s center.

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Students watched a short video about vanilla flower pollination and fair trade in Uganda. The vanilla flower is so small, a very small vanilla bee is the only insect that can pollinate it. To pollinate enough vanilla flowers to make vanilla extract, vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt and vanilla tea, the flowers have to be pollinated by hand one by one! On this video the children learn about the farmers in Uganda who pollinate vanilla flowers. This delicate labor is fair trade and Ugandan farmers are able to build their houses and be home owners and send their children to college. The children watched another video about vanilla flower pollination in Hawaii, this film focused on the profit aspect of farming vanilla flowers. After they watched these videos I asked them to locate Hawaii and Uganda on the map.

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Simiah draws a vanilla flower and Serenity gets creative and draws a vanilla bean with petals. The children are reminded of the ingredients they used to make the Coconut Almond Bliss Balls, vanilla extract being one of them, it makes the children realize the human effort behind the making of one sole ingredient.

Seventy five children at the After School program ate this sugar free organic snack, and they loved it!!!