Gardening

First Summer in the Kitchen House & Garden

Our first Summer . . . in our inspiring new space . . . connecting kids with seed-to-table learning experiences to build a healthy future . . . has been blessed!

Field Trips ~ Home School Groups ~ Week-long Camps ~ Teacher Academy ~ Chef Night ~ Sunday Morning Gardening ~ Trevi Pasta Contest Winner ~ Private Events

Long Beans al Fresco

The distance most food travels from farm soil to our dinner plate is usually measured in miles. Recently the seventh graders from OJA reduced that journey to mere feet. With a portable hot plate, folding table and a few basic tools the students were able to prepare a delicious recipe in the garden using ingredients from the garden. 

Partnering for Healthy Kids

Edible Education Experience is proud of its continued partnership with Florida Hospital’s Center for Child and Family Wellness.  The partnership is in its 6th year and we look forward to the Center’s monthly visit to the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Garden for Sunday morning gardening where young clients and their families plant and harvest alongside their doctor and team of experts.

The team is led by Angela Fals, MD who is a board-certified pediatrician physician. As Medical Director of Florida Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Weight and Wellness Program, she oversees pediatric weight management programs aimed at helping kids live to a long and healthy life through beneficial lifestyle choices and changes. As founder of the Center for Child and Family Wellness, she works hand-in-hand with experts in nutrition, exercise and child psychology to help children and adolescents effectively manage their weight, avoid a lifetime of obesity and make healthy choices that will benefit their self-esteem and overall health through adulthood.

Quote from one excited attendee, “Gardening is more fun than roller skating!”

 

Seeds into Soil

And so we begin. We believe that getting seeds into soil is fundamental to a great gardening experience so we don't waste any time in beginning the gardening school year this way. Some seeds we put directly into the ground and some we put into pots of soil. If the seed is large and makes a large sprout we usually put those right in the ground. If the seed is tiny and makes a little sprout sometimes it's easier to plant them in pots and wait a few weeks for them to grow before we transplant them into the garden. (it's easier to protect and care for tiny seedlings when they are in pots) Most of what we are planting will last through winter here and any frost that may come our way. We also have a few months to grow some warm weather crops like beans so we will plant those also.

 

Educational Construction Site Tours

Back-to-School typically means new uniforms, binders and lunch boxes and this year, for Orlando Junior Academy students, it also meant educational construction site tours of the soon coming Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden.

Jose Venegas, of Midtown Architecture Studio, was on hand to lead small groups of students and parents through the 3,500 sq. ft. kitchen house, as part of OJA’s Back-to-School Bash on August 7.  Venegas was quoted as saying, “Making a building like this is a privilege. I always enjoy telling others of the beautiful vision it will soon share with our community.”

Educational highlights included: Identifying different construction shapes found in the roof and wall framing, figuring square footage and learning the science behind environmental-friendly elements such as metal roofing and water catchment, resulting in LEED certification.  

Parents offered many positive responses including, "This resource will truly differentiate OJA from other schools" and "I can feel the excitement--there's so much positive energy around what's going to happen here!" 

Students were especially excited about getting to wear hard hats and signing their name on one of the walls to memorialize their part in this special project. Many of the kids also took the opportunity to write a note of thanks to Massey Services for the non-toxic termite treatment that was gifted to the project. Special recognition also goes to HuntonBrady, architect of record, and E2Homes for prepping the site for the day's visitors. 

The garden was also enjoyed as students and parents sipped cool citrus-and-mint-flavored water, offered by gracious volunteers, while observing the butterflies flitting from flower to flower.

Edible Education Experience looks forward to project completion in November and sharing this new community kitchen classroom with kids where cooking and gardening are integrated into school curriculum and beyond . . . 

 

Seed Fever

It's almost a cliche image; a gardener on a dreary February night huddled over a dimly lit table strewn with tattered envelopes and ziploc bags containing sprinklings of saved seeds. Some are labeled, some blank, some obvious in their contents, some complete mysteries. In between sips of hot tea or cocoa the gardener fumbles through these artifacts of last year's garden. While the cold winter drizzle patters on the glass the dreamer looks out the fogged window and tries to remember spring. Returning his focus to the table he sweeps away the collection and flops on that table the graven images of bounty, seed catalogues. Without seed catalogues many northern gardeners might not make it through winter. Without brightly colored pictures of impossibly perfect tomatoes and green beans many would just curse the gray skies, throw another log on the fire and say: "forget it". Though I am in a totally different circumstance, I find myself in the same state of dependence. I need a seed catalogue right now. I am not warming my hands on a hot cup of tea, dreaming of spring. I am holding a glass of iced coconut water to my forehead dreaming of fall. The heat outside is withering not just the garden, but the gardener as well. Every task seems like hard labor and discouragement comes quickly. I miss the cool mornings. I miss the gentle sun, low in the sky. I miss broccoli. 

Enter the catalogue. Sitting directly under the air conditioning vent I can thumb through page after page of cool season crops and remember that fall will come again. I am reminded of crisp carrots and sweet snap peas. In my mind I can plan new beds and build new trellises, all without breaking a sweat. This is the time to think of fall. If you wait until it's cool outside, you will be too late. My favorite seed supplier is Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds. They have a great catalogue and their seeds are pretty reliable. This is what I will be ordering for our winter garden:

kale, broccoli, cabbage, romanesco, collards, celery, snap beans, snap peas, sweet peas (the flowers), lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, onion, carrots, beets and turnips.

Even though we won't plant them for a while I'll include some tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in my order.

Of course for each plant listed above there are several (for some, hundreds) of varieties available. Choosing is difficult, so is restraint.

Some of what grows in our garden can be grown from seed saved the previous year. Waiting for school to start are envelopes and jars with seeds of purple broccoli, purple cauliflower, parsley, dill, snow peas, hollyhocks and poppies.

Now is the time to dream of cooler days. Now is the time to plan. Browse through a catalogue (or go online) and place an order. Believe it or not, Summer won't last forever. Winter is coming.