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

A huge thank you to all the wonderful people who is 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 all our amazing volunteers, who show every time and give us their full support: Andrew Maslowski, who tends gardens at all or four locations, performs soil tests, helped us build and assemble trellises at St. John’s and assists teaching at Red Hook. 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. I LOVE you all, you give this project meaning.

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

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

#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 kind 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 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 ‚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 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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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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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 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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