For four years, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Garden’s organic soil had been cultivated making it loose, fluffy and easy to plant—filled with air that plant roots need — and with plenty of minerals essential for vigorous plant growth—then along came construction of the Kitchen House.
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 . . .
Under normal conditions a 20-ton crane would have gotten the job done. But, when the challenge arose of flying trusses, and saving the garden at the same time, Beyel Brothers stepped up to offer a 40-ton crane with a wider radius. This allowed the crane to park on the street instead of on the garden, which would have turned the garden's loose fluffy soil into a rock-bed of compaction. From the beginning, contractor Rob Smith of E2Homes has been committed to an environmentally-friendly project and Brad Jones, Garden Coordinator, is relieved and grateful for having been able to maintain the two years of soil prep that's been underway.
In addition to the fine crane operation, Bill Reagan's framing crew is doing a masterful job. To date, the roof decking has been installed and the 2nd-story dormers are taking shape. EEE was honored to serve the crew fresh lime drinks and cold watermelon, with mint from the garden, as a token of our appreciation for their hard and steady work. Completion is expected in November.
As a friendly reminder, Sunday morning gardening is an on-going event. We invite you to come get your hands dirty, collect seeds in the shade or just stop by to see the progress for yourself.