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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Broccoli Bonanza at Garden Kitchen Lab-St. John’s!

We had almost 30 pounds of harvested broccoli this year! The children learned how to collect and prepare steamed broccoli during this class. Here are a very proud group of children on that day.

                         


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“I smelled peppermint leaves and tomatoes, it was fun.”

“In gardening class, we made pesto sauce, beet-berries-banana smoothie, steamed broccoli, quinoa salad, radish avocado toast, and tabouleh. We collect vegetables from the garden, then we went upstairs to cut the vegetables like radish and cucumbers.”

“I liked the beet banana smoothie because, to me, it tasted like a strawberry smoothie. I loved the quinoa salad! The first bite I took already made me want more. The pesto pasta tasted good because it tasted like regular pasta except it had green pesto sauce.”

“I like to eat and make pesto sauce because you can cut vegetables, and then Ms.Fabiola blends it with oil, salt, and we mixed it with the pasta.” Next, we make a beet-banana smoothie. We cut the beets and peel the banana, Ms. Fabiola blended the beet, and it was so good!!!”

“I learned about a different type of foods and smells of plants like chocolate mint and more. We also used the plants from the garden, for example, basil. And we also ate the food that we made.”

“I liked how when we found food in the garden, and we got to prepare tasty food, and we got to eat it. In the garden, there were bees in their habitat feeding off of flowers and caterpillars on the leaves.”

“I learned about making pesto sauce and growing tomatoes. Then we have tasted peppermint. We tasted an onion plant. We tasted chocolate mint. We tasted basil.”

“I love the pesto sauce and the beets smoothie!!!”

“I liked it when we cut the plants and cooked, then we got to eat them. Then we wrote about what we made in the garden and the kitchen.”

“I learned that we can make new different food to eat. We pick plants from the garden and cook in the kitchen. We loved cooking.”

“I learned how to work together like with other people.”

“What I liked is the gardening class is the beet banana shake and the chocolate mint, and I like being in charge of the kitchen.”

 


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Growing Broccoli

Students completed their first full Garden-Kitchen-Lab lesson today by harvesting twelve super big broccolis! The children took all broccolis to the kitchen, chopped the stems and leaves off and added them to a large pan of steaming water. Three minutes later, the kids were enjoying steamed broccoli with olive oil and salt. All twelve broccolis were eaten that morning! The kids completed a quiz about the growing, harvesting, and preparing the recipe along with learning the benefits of eating broccoli. A successful lesson.

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Beginning the Growing Season ~ 2016!

This year’s growing season started by adding two additional beds to the garden and showing kids how to start a raised bed form scratch. They laid plastic, poked holes for drainage, and added layers of organic potting soil and compost for proper growth. Some of the compost added came from our own compost bin which we started last year. After school, kids learned to plant from seeds, learned how to transplant seedlings and how to feed the garden a mix of organic vegetable food. After eight weeks, students were able to see the progress, harvesting twelve lettuces, eight beets, and ten broccolis! By the end of the spring, they were quizzed to asses how much had they absorbed from the lessons.


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Late Fall at St. John’s

Collard green, broccoli, beets, and tomatoes were some of the vegetables that the children have been using to prepare salads throughout this fall. As part of the Garden Kitchen Lab program, the kids also covered plant beds with oats and lentil seeds to protect the soil from extreme temperatures. Earth is the foundation of a healthy agricultural system. Through crop rotation and nutrient management, we are working on making a biologically fertile soil.

We have started our winter session watching ‘Food Machine, America Revealed.’ A documentary that explores how the country’s food machine feeds nearly 300 million people every day. This film showed the children the engineering marvels people have created by putting nature to work and takes a look at the costs of our insatiable appetite on our health and environment. Tied to the Sustainability theme for the Global Partners’ Junior program, the children at St. John’s are being exposed to a well-rounded program on environmental awareness.

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Early Fall at St. John’s

The children prepare a new plant bed to transplant beet starters using compost and soil donated by GreenThumb. The kids learn how to ferment tomatoes, and to save seeds for next spring. This has been a mild fall, and the eggplant plants, the tomato, and even the jalapeño pepper plants are still giving! We are also pleased to have found a new heirloom tomato in the garden. The kids are carefully documenting how its shape is changing every day! And finally one the kids tell us about how she made a spinach strawberry salad at her grandmother’s home, a recipe she learned during class last spring!

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Summer Garden at St. John’s

This spring, we started our project as a container garden, now we have six small plant beds and one large raised bed. It has been a fantastic experience to see how our seeds turned into seedlings and soon after started growing exponentially! The tomatoes began giving last week, and so did the peppers, the onions, and the eggplants. Our broccoli continues to grow and will be ready to harvest in a few more weeks. This project is moving forward! Thank you GreenThumb, Katie’s Krops and Build It Green! NYC. Special thanks to Ai Hirashi for al her gardening advice and plant beds donation and to Colm Johnston for your donation! We look forward to teaching the kids how to use it this fall and learn more about how to measure the soil’s humidity. Thank you very much to Ed Feldman for his visit to Garden Kitchen Lab – St. John’s!

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