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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Hello Spring! — Garden Kitchen Lab at Sunset, McCarren, Red Hook & St. John’s Media Labs

Special thanks to NYC Parks Five Borough and the Sustainability Division for assembling and delivering all our compost bins in record time!!! Beautiful work! ūüôā

A huge thank you to all the beautiful people who are making this program possible!!! My total gratitude to all the NYC Parks Media Education Coordinators Beatrice Toscano at Sunset Recreation Center and Diana Baker at the McCarren Play Center. To Andrew Maslowski, who tends our gardens at all four locations, helped us build and assemble trellises, and assists teaching. To Maureen Medina and Keith Smith, who water the gardens at St. John’s and Red Hook every single day! To Maureen McNellis who helped open the Red Hook garden and kickoff the season, and to Dianne Bliffeld for leading the class at Red Hook.

Thank you #Katie’sKrops for continuing giving us your support since 2014 for buying all the organic seeds and seedlings for all our gardens. Thank you to #LianeNewton #USAGDEV for buying four scales to weight our produce, and purchasing the garden stakes to tie our tomatoes at St. John’s.

#BeatriceToscano, #DianaBaker, #AndrewMaslowski, #MaureenMedina, #MelanieLewis, #KeithSmith, #RosaMaruffo, #DianneBliffeld, #Maureen McNellis


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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 kinds of lettuces, cucumbers, Habanero peppers ‚ÄĒthese 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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Growing Season Begins!

This week the students began planting using small seed trays 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 ‚ÄĒthis 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 peppers, and wanted their seedlings to grow right away! By observing how long seeds take to sprout will make students understand Nature’s processes, and appreciate when the garden starts giving.

The students also Skyped with other Global partner‚Äôs Junior participants in Mexico City, as part of the Global Partner’s Junior program. Our students are growing habanero peppers to mail the seeds to Mexico in the fall. Next year the students in Mexico will plant the habanero pepper seeds. We hope this exchange helps all students understand how technology can be used to make a difference in real life.

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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 Recreation Center had NYRP designing and building our new garden: Planters, trellises, and a compost bin. This is our final project for the Global Partner’s Junior project, which our Garden Kitchen Lab students are also a part of.

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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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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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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 set the trays in the freezer for three hours. The kids loved the taste of these cucumber ice cubes and did not miss 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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