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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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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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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The Garden’s Map

This week we planned how we are going to start building our garden. First step was to document the sun light hours in the area where we want to grow. I took pictures of the garden from 9am to 5pm, every hour, to see where the sun sets. A garden needs at least eight hours of sun to grow strong and healthy vegetables and fruits. Second step was to create a map of where the plant beds will be placed in the garden. The second graphic is the area where the plant beds will be located. The third step was to start growing! We are starting small, I got plant starters, compost and seeds, and the children planted basil, rosemary and marigold. Each seed has different needs, rosemary seeds do not  need to be covered with too much soil; basil seeds need 1/4″ inch deep dimple to start, and marigold seeds need a 1″ inch deep dimple to grow. The children wrote their names and what they planted on each pot, that will helps us decide how much water each plant pot needs. The plants stayed indoors yesterday, but this weekend they will stay outdoors so they can get as much sun as possible!

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