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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“Food Lab” at Garden Kitchen Lab

Garden Kitchen Lab is developing a new series of projects called “Media With A Purpose”; which aims at using technology as a vehicle to learn about sustainability and other cultures through food and cooking.

Thank you Media Coordinators Chad Chenali and Belinda McKeever for collaborating with me on this project!

#MediaWithAPurpose #Food Lab #FabiolaCaceres #ChadChenali #BelindaMcKeever

 


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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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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 steamed 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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Growing Season Starts!

This week the kids started planting using small seed tray containers and covering the cells with potting mix making sure to fill them to the top, then made 1/4 inch deep dimple in each cell and placed two to three seeds into each cell. By using this method if all seeds in one cell start to germinate, you can pull out all but the healthiest seedling —this is called thinning to one. We planted winter squash, basil, parsley, onions, beets, habanero peppers, swiss chard and carrots. The girls seemed to be particularly excited about planting carrots and habanero pepper, and want their seedlings to grow right away! But observing how long seeds take to sprout will make them realize everything in nature has its own time and rhythms and it will make them appreciate more when the garden starts giving.

The habanero pepper planting is part of a Global Partner Junior project. The St. John’s students spoke to children in Mexico City via Skype a few weeks ago and as part of the exchange program our students are growing habanero peppers to mail deliver the seeds to Mexico in the fall. Next year the students in Mexico will plant our habanero pepper seeds, we hope this interaction will help both groups understand how technology and virtual interaction can be used to make a difference in real life.

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Cucumber Lemon Agave Ice Cubes

The children had so much fun preparing this recipe! And it was so simple to make. We used 3/4 liter of water, 20 lemons, 1 1/4 large cucumber, 8 spoons of agave and 9 ice trays. First, the children took the lemon seeds off and squeezed the juice in a plate; the lemon juice was then placed in the water container adding the spoons of agave. We shaved the cucumbers with graders and added the julienned cucumber on each of the cubes and placed the trays in the freezer for three hours. The kids loved the taste of these cucumber ice cubes and did not missed sugar flavor at all. We are also growing cucumbers in the garden so we will be making more recipes with this vegetable throughout the summer! Below some pictures of this experience and adding compost to our onion plant.

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Katie’s Krops Grant

Serenity was awarded the Katies’s Krops grant and the Garden Kitchen Lab will be able to start building the garden! The goal of this program is to teach children how to farm, appreciate and eat what they grow, and give part of the harvest to people in need.  It is this experience, that little by little will make the children understand the beauty of eating healthy and eating good quality food. Serenity, 11 years old, along with the other 26 winners this year, are all  featured on the Katie’s Krops site this month. http://www.katieskrops.com/apply-for-a-grant.html. She was also awarded a Leica photo camera and she will be documenting how the veggies grow through the summer. We can’t wait to see how our crop turns out!

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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.

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