Since late February we have been busy with our first full-on weekly classes in the kitchen and garden. Ms. Johnson’s 7th grade science and math class –out of Madrona K-8 – uses the last period of their day on Monday’s and Tuesday’s (and will have 3 classes with us that are 2 periods long) to walk to our temporary kitchen in the Madrona Presbyterian Church; or down to our garden at MLK and E. Union St.
Nicole Johnson and Michael Garret-Smalls (YMCA after school coordinator at Madrona) took a chance on our new little program this January and championed us within the school, so our vision of working directly with the public middle schools has begun to take shape! Next year we expect to take on 2 grades!
Since late February we have been going step-by-step with a kitchen and garden curriculum that touches on science and math in a sneaky and subtle way. But to get them up to speed in the kitchen we started out with:
A kitchen scavenger’s hunt (learning the names of kitchen tools, doubling recipes and learning some basic sanitation and safety)
Knife Skills Class and learning what an emulsion is, how it works and (in our case) how yummy an emulsified vinaigrette can be with vegetables (cut during knife skills) dipped in it.
A soup cook-off, 1 soup per group (that rhymes) –team work, more knife skills and the understanding that IF you know how to make soup –lots of different soup techniques- you can eat well every day!
There’s more, such as the blind folded taste and smell test next week and the appetizer challenge (with crackers and vegetable toppings)…but I want to mention the garden.
In the garden after giving them the introduction, we’ve planted peas together –they are already coming up! We experimented with the germination process of the peas by inoculating one batch and leaving the other batch au-natural; just to see if one started germinating faster. So far there isn’t much difference…maybe that is the fault of Cedar Grove and their really good soil and compost…..
Planting peas is planting with training wheels – a great place to start!
This week we had them plant their own, 4, Madrona Beds. We talked about the reason for “companion planting” and what that means. They needed rulers and used a planting bed map designed by one of our team (sort of like a recipe for planting seeds).
We have a Carrot and Onion Bed; a Lettuce and Radish Bed; a Beet, Turnip and Spinach Bed and the Cabbage Bed (with Bok Choi and Joi Choi along with Napa)
More to come, you can tell I am SOOOO excited!
One of our youth is struggling in the classroom, disruptive and failing in his work. He is one of the favorites in our garden and kitchen….so now this young man is coming to us both days and stepping up to do some leading –he demonstrated the planting of lettuce on his second day of seeds!
Here are a few words from Ms. Johnson:
“I wanted to thank you both for working with our 7th graders. I was truly taken by what I saw Monday. I now understand why they come back so excited!”
“During that conversation about policy, one of the things that came up was how educators are often told to give kids opportunities to feel success, if that doesn’t happen in the classroom. In prior years, that simply wasn’t always possible, however your project is that place for many kids. _______ is one that comes to mind. He stands so tall every time he comes back from working with you.”