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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Tabouleh 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 an authentic garden-to-table recipe. Another enjoyable 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-berries-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, and then Ms.Fabiola blends it with oil, salt, and we mixed it with the pasta.” Next, we make a beet-banana smoothie. We cut the beets and peel the banana, Ms. Fabiola blended the beet, and it was so good!!!”

“I learned about a 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, and we got to prepare tasty food, and we got to eat it. In the garden, there were bees in their habitat feeding off of flowers and caterpillars on the leaves.”

“I learned about making pesto sauce and growing tomatoes. Then we have 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 it when we cut the plants and cooked, then we got to eat 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 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. Garden Kitchen Lab teaches how to grow food, and how to eat healthily, but it also exposes children to new flavors and 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 a 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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Presto Pesto!

Great class! Students harvested basil, took the leaves and flowers off the stems and helped add it to the blender. Mixed it with walnuts, olive oil and a bit of salt. Presto! The pesto sauce was mixed with organic pasta and cherry tomatoes also from the garden. In general, the kids love this program and what they make, but they inevitably like some recipes more than others. They loved the taste of basil! Raw and as pesto. The students received a copy of the recipe and a quiz to write about what they did in class.

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A Tradition: Peruvian Quinoa Salad

Today students learned how to prepare a quinoa salad. Quinoa, a grain g found in the high altitudes of Peru and Bolivia is an excellent source of fiber. Kids harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, chives and basil leaves, and flowers to add to the salad. After some chopping and shredding, they completed their quiz. What to harvest to prepare a quinoa salad and the nutritional value of all the vegetables. A brief lesson on mapping the location of Peru and Bolivia and learning who grows quinoa was also included.

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The Garden Keeps On Giving

The summer camp students designed a series of collages and drawings of what they saw and experienced in the garden, they used traditional and digital media to create their pieces.

The following are some the kid’s observations:

“Today I am so excited because we actually got to make a quinoa salad. First, we were taught that quinoa comes to Peru and Bolivia. Then we went downstairs and got to harvest some of the ingredients that we are using to add to the quinoa. After we went to the kitchen and started. First, we chopped up the chives, then shredded the parsley and chopped the peppers. Last was the avocado. While we were chopping Ms. Fabiola was cooking the quinoa. We used a big tray to put the lettuce on the sides of the tray. Then we poured the quinoa and added the parsley, sweet peppers and avocado. Then we ate the delicious quinoa and stuffed ourselves.”

“What I did today is to harvest chives and parsley. Then we added the quinoa, avocado, red peppers, chives, and lettuce. We added strawberry vinaigrette, salt, and olive oil. I thought it tasted awesome.”

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July: Growing 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 in their journals:

Madison, 9 years old
“We planted and watered the plants, and we watched them grow. We had a plant named Bessie, she was 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 eggshells, banana peels, avocado and put it in a bin. We also made a 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 to compost because I got to get stuff like 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 eggshells. We planted flowers to attract bees.”

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