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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Tabbouleh Salad, a Lesson on Inclusion

This salad is one of the children’s favorite and brings an opportunity to learn about different cultures through food. The students learn about Syria, Lebanon, Turkey among other countries where this salad comes from, all the vegetables and herbs come from our garden making this recipe a true garden-to-table recipe. Another wonderful experience with Dianne Bliffeld, our new Board of Education instructor.


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“I smelled peppermint leaves and tomatoes, it was fun”

“In gardening class we made pesto sauce, beet-banana smoothie, steamed broccoli, quinoa salad, radish avocado toast and tabouleh. We collect vegetables from the garden, then we went upstairs to cut the vegetables like radish and cucumbers. I liked the beet banana smoothie because to me, it tasted like a strawberry smoothie. I loved the quinoa salad! The first bite I took already made me want more. The pesto pasta tasted good because it tasted like regular pasta except it had green pesto sauce.”

“I like to eat and make pesto sauce because you can cut vegetables, see how it grows, then we go to the kitchen and then Ms.Fabiola blends it with oil, salt, put it with the pasta. Next we make beet-banana smoothie. We cut the beets and peel the banana, Ms. Fabiola blended the beet and it was so good!!!”

“I learned about different type of foods and smells of plants like chocolate mint and more. We also used the plants from the garden, for example basil. And we also ate the food that we made.”

“I liked how when we found food in the garden we got to eat and we got to prepare tasty cuisine and we got to eat it. And in the garden there were a lot of bees in their habitat feeding off of flowers and caterpillars biting the leaves.”

“I learned about making pesto sauce and growing tomatoes. Then we was tasted peppermint. We tasted an onion plant. We tasted chocolate mint. We tasted basil.”

 “I love the pesto sauce and the beets smoothie!!!”

“I liked when we cut the plants and cooked, then we got to eat it them. Then we wrote about what we made in the garden and the kitchen.”

“I learned that we can make new different food to eat. We pick plants from the garden and cook in the kitchen. We loved the cooking.”

“I learned how to work together like with other people.”

“What I liked is the gardening class is the beet banana shake and the chocolate mint, and I like being in charge of the kitchen.”

 


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Tabouleh.

You pay attention to what the garden is giving that day or week and you plan ahead. The Garden Kitchen Lab teaches how to grow and how to eat healthy, but it also exposes children to new flavors, smells, it educates the kids palates and encourages them to explore through their senses.

Tabouleh or tabouli is a refreshing, delicious and easy to make salad, and these community children loved being able to prepare it from scratch!

As always, all the cups to eat are made of paper and utensils of bamboo. Everything that the Garden Kitchen Lab uses and discards is 100% compostable.

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July: Seeing it Grow In So Many Ways

We ended the Spring Session with the afterschool students releasing Monarch butterflies, and celebrating an early harvest. The students prepared a salad with strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, chives, Swiss chard, three types of basil, Italian oregano, spearmint and chocolate mint. The children were introduced to shiitake mushrooms; which they had not eaten before.

Here some of the observations the kids wrote on their journals:

Madisyn, 9 years old
“We planted and watered the plants and we watched them grow. We had a plant named Bessie, she was a lettuce, but she died because we planted her in the winter. Now Bessie is compost, so she is not dead anymore.” […] “I enjoyed planting because we got our hands dirty and that is what makes a good artist.” […] I learned that compost is good for the plants because it helps them grow more.”

Amir, 8 years old
“I learned that there are thousands of plants and that worms are good for plants and make their roots stronger.”

Alissa, 10 years old
“I enjoyed composting because we get to make it ourselves and we stirred it. I learned that red worms have five hearts and are good for plants because when their poop gets absorbed by the plants and makes them stronger. You can make compost with egg shells, banana peels, avocado and put it in a bin. We also made quinoa salad. The ingredients to make the salad are red pepper, avocado, parsley, lettuce. You chop everything an mix it with the cooked quinoa. Quinoa comes from Peru and Bolivia. The peasants are the ones who grow quinoa.”

Daica, 8 years old
“I enjoyed composting the most because you get to see how something is after hours and hours. What I learned in the garden is that you can plant new things and improve them.”

Ugochi, 9 years old
“I chose composting because I got to get stuff as food scraps to put in the compost bin. We planted flowers so when the bees come to get pollen from the flower it spreads the pollen to a plant.” […] “We add avocado, red pepper, parsley and lettuce. You mix the ingredients to make quinoa salad.”

Holiday, 7 years old
“I learned to plant and compost. Composting is when you put things together like tomatoes and egg shells. We planted flowers to attract bees.”

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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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