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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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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April & May: Time to Plant & Reflect

During the last five weeks the kids have been planting and seeing their seeds grow. We are growing carrots, beets, two different kind of lettuces, cucumbers, Habanero peppers  —these are part a seed exchange program with the Global Partner Junior group in Mexico City, bok choy, onions, eggplants, chives, strawberries, chocolate mint, parsley, lemon thyme, rosemary, lavender, spearmint, oregano, winter squash, basil, Thai basil, mint, golden thyme, Italian oregano, red peppers, yellow peppers and different types of heirloom tomatoes from seeds the kids saved last year.

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Spring 2015: Our new garden at St. John’s!

We started our growing season this April First with the help of the New York Restoration Project. The NYRP focuses on building and restoring vacant lots, public parks, schools, sidewalks and waterfronts in communities of need. The St. John’s Center located in Crown Heights had the privilege to have the NYRP designing and building our new garden: Planters, trellises and a compost bin to turn St. John’s into a sustainable center, this last our final project for the Global Partner’s Junior program which our Garden Kitchen Lab students are also a part of.

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Late Fall at St. John’s

Collard green, broccolis, 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. Soil is the foundation of a healthy agricultural system. Through crop rotation and nutrient management, we are working on making a soil that is biologically rich.

The temperatures have dropped already and we have started our winter program by 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’s 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. In the kitchen the kids learn how to ferment tomatoes to save seeds for next spring, and back it the garden we continue to harvest tomatoes, we have been making tomato and broccoli salads. This has been a mild fall and the eggplant plants, the tomatoes 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 closely documenting how its shape is changing every day! And finally one the kids tells 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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Garden Kitchen Lab Visits East New York Farm

Students visited the East New York Farm to learn more about planting, watering, weeding techniques, how to compost and beekeeping. The purpose of the visit was for the children to imagine what their garden could become one day.

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