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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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  —these 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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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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The Garden’s Map

This week we planned how we are going to start building our garden. First step was to document the sun light hours in the area where we want to grow. I took pictures of the garden from 9am to 5pm, every hour, to see where the sun sets. A garden needs at least eight hours of sun to grow strong and healthy vegetables and fruits. Second step was to create a map of where the plant beds will be placed in the garden. The second graphic is the area where the plant beds will be located. The third step was to start growing! We are starting small, I got plant starters, compost and seeds, and the children planted basil, rosemary and marigold. Each seed has different needs, rosemary seeds do not  need to be covered with too much soil; basil seeds need 1/4″ inch deep dimple to start, and marigold seeds need a 1″ inch deep dimple to grow. The children wrote their names and what they planted on each pot, that will helps us decide how much water each plant pot needs. The plants stayed indoors yesterday, but this weekend they will stay outdoors so they can get as much sun as possible!

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