Symetra Lends GPS a Hand (well, a few hands), Thanks!

23 Jul

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A week ago, a group of employees from Symetra took time away from their desks to come help Green Plate Special in the garden. It was so nice to have extra hands to do the many projects that have been piling up in the garden. They helped weed and clear the area that will be the future home of our chickens; it looks fantastic! They also spruced up our chalkboards, where we write the daily agenda (the youth like the chalkboard because it helps them to know what is the plan for the day, and what is coming  next)! We are very grateful for the hours Symetra employees spent painting, weeding, cleaning and sprucing up in the garden.

Thank you to the volunteers for all of your support. People like you make our garden a great learning environment for youth, and so beautiful!

Summer of Service (SOS)- Learning Job Skills, While Having Fun, a win-win!

17 Jul



Green Plate Special has paired up with Summer of Service Seattle (SOS), a program of Seattle Parks and Recreation, for the third year, and we’re happy to be gardening, planting, and cooking with a group of energetic middle school youth for six weeks this summer.


Harvesting and cleaning FRESH from the garden veggies!

We just finished our second week with a group of eight youth from this summer’s SOS program, and it has been great seeing their enthusiasm! We have really enjoyed getting to know them, and learning about all the fantastic qualities they will bring to this summer’s program. Many are learning about certain vegetables in the garden for the first time, like purple carrots, and this group is very willing and eager to get their hands dirty and also try new things, such as flipping an omelette in the pan for the first time.

In addition to gardening and cooking experience, we are  happy to support SOS’s mission of  helping youth gain leadership and work skills, as well as identifying needs in their community. Groups of youth in the SOS program are going into 7th, 8th and 9th grades next fall. We are excited to see them continue to learn and grow throughout the summer, and hope the GPS programs will increase their knowledge and experience, both personally and professionally.


Making omelettes!



In the outdoor “kitchen”- the indoor kitchen will be ready very soon!!!


“Goofy Faces” post lunch!



Walking, Talking and Learning “like an Egyptian” with Seattle Nativity School

15 Jul


We have had many fantastic experiences throughout 2014 in our inaugural year of  working with Seattle Nativity School. As GPS is a “newer” non-profit (we’re now in our 4th year) it is really fantastic to work with a newly established school, learning and growing together.


Seattle Nativity School’s summer curriculum focuses on Ancient Egypt, so we infused our own curriculum on nutrition, cooking and gardening, with an Egyptian twist. They have learned about the different agricultural seasons of Ancient Egypt, and how the seasons affected which crops were planted or harvested at that time of year. The group also learned about different grains used in ancient Egypt, like kamut, and other grains that may not be typical of modern day U.S. choices. Along with grains, the group  learned other typical foods that were available in Ancient Egypt, or that are characteristic of that country and region of the world, such as figs and dates. So far they have planted radishes and peas, harvested onions and garlic, and cooked different types of salads, soups, and omelets.

After three weeks with this wonderful group of incoming 6th graders, we only have one week of programming left with this group. It will be sad to see them go, but we hope to work with Seattle Nativity School more in the fall and spring.





Making Friends with ‘Friends of the Children’

8 Jul

Children and mentors from the non-profit organization, Friends of the Children (Seattle chapter), came to visit the garden last week, and it was such a blast!?????????????????????????????

The group of children that joined us at Green Plate Special were very enthusiastic and energetic, and we had a great day showing them around the garden! They were very savvy and quick learners, who were eager to get their hands dirty and try new things (carrots were a big hit)!

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?????????????????????????????Their mentors joined them in the activities, and they were able to learn some too! Gardening and cooking are truly  life-long learning opportunities. The kids harvested mint, carrots, basil, snap peas, and fresh herbs, and then helped to clean and prepare the salad that we all shared together. They learned how to use garden shears, how to harvest carrots and peas, and basic knife skills.?????????????????????????????





It was a lot of fun to see such enthusiasm, and willingness to try things they had not tried before. Many of them stated they would like to come back, so hopefully this is not the last time we will see them in the garden!

If you are not yet familiar with the group Friends of the Children, you should be-it is a phenomenal organization! The organization aims to change the lives of children, by finding the most vulnerable and/or at-risk children, and pairing them with a full time mentor (or Friend as they are called in the program) for a 12.5 year relationship. Friends of the Children currently serves over 860 children in 6 cities in the US and 1 in the UK.  Their vision is to take a preventive, early intervention approach that breaks the cycle of poverty and abuse by supporting and helping children in need to overcome the many obstacles in their lives.


Thank you Chef’n!

30 Jun

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA group of volunteers from Chef’n Corporation came to our garden to volunteer their time, and to bring us an incredible gift of  pots and pans, and chef’s knives for our new kitchen classroom! Chef’n will also deliver a large donation of small kitchen tools, like salad spinners, spatulas, and pepper grinders, to us before the kitchen is complete. We are grateful for the support of our kitchen, as well as the hours put in painting and weeding in the garden. Thank you, volunteers from Chef’n for all of your support!


Meet the Interns: Jacqueline

24 Jun

Hi, my name is Jacqueline. I am a graduate student at University of Michigan School of Public Health, studying in the Health Behavior and Health Education program. My background is mainly in pediatric nursing-and through my experience as a nurse, I realized I really enjoyed helping to educate my patients about their illness and/or care, so they could have less fear about their situation and feel more independent and in control. I also deeply value health promotion, and promoting small changes that can ultimately make a big difference.

imageI personally enjoy working with youth, because I find them to be so brilliant, creative and full of new ideas-not worrying about whether they are attainable or not. Youth are so optimistic, and eager to learn and acquire new skills and gain independence, I want to be able to support and encourage these practices for youth in a positive, fun and educational environment.

When I was looking for an internship this summer I knew I wanted to work with kids in a hands on atmosphere, where I would be able to both interact directly with the youth, as well as learn about all the “behind the scenes” planning that goes into educational programming. I also knew that Seattle is a hub for people trying to do things to better their communities and the world around them, as I had previously lived and worked in Seattle.

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I “stumbled upon” Green Plate Special, and felt like it was a perfect fit.  I had grown up helping my parents in our family garden (it’s where my brother and I first honed our entrepreneurship skills :)-we set up a table in our drive way and waved down passing cars), and both my parents had always been enthusiastic about preparing, cooking and eating meals IMAG2590together. I thought this program would  not only be a good fit for learning and growing professionally, but also personally.

I look forward to the unique cultural and familial experiences the children in the program will “bring to the table” and teach me about. I hope that I can encourage them to open up to trying new things, help them in acquiring new knowledge and skills about food (where it comes from, how much work goes into cultivating it, how fun preparing it can be, how it can be healthy and taste good too), but also honor the customs and practices surrounding food in their own lives.


Favorite Vegetable: Brussel Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes or Cucumbers

Favorite Fruit: Passion Fruit, Pineapple and Plantains (Platanos)

Favorite thing to cook: All egg dishes, pizza from scratch, any baking activity

Favorite family cooking memory/experience:

My mom (and her friends) makes seasonal jam three times a year (peach, strawberry and raspberry), for the raspberry she also picks the fruit. I enjoy making jam with mom, and appreciate all the work that goes into making it. Learning family food traditions is important to me, because it is something you can carry on from generation to generation, it brings people together to both prepare and eat it, and it both honors and carries on your families or cultures heritage/traditions, and makes for great memories. 

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Unearthing new textures, colors and experiences. Who knew vegetables could teach you so much about life!

Meet the Strawberry Divas

2 Jun

Each Thursday afternoon this spring, we are joined in the garden by the Strawberry Divas, a group of young women from Madrona K-8. They are an energetic group, full of ideas and always willing to try new things (with a little bit of encouragement). The self-named Strawberry Divas planted herbs in our herb garden, and have cooked a variety of delicious, healthy foods in our outdoor kitchen. Favorite projects have included making strawberry-rhubarb cobbler in our wood-fired oven, and learning how to make omelets. Several of them even learned to flip omelets in their pans. We have just two more sessions with the Strawberry Divas, including our end of the year pizza party. We will have a hard time letting them go!


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