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.


Chef Night

Chef Night is part of the programming by Edible Education Experience (EEE), whose mission is to ground education in a garden experience.  It's designed to help sustain EEE programming and will eventually be presented at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden to be completed November 2016. EEE co-founders Brad Jones, Sarah Cahill and Kevin Fonzo, chef/owner of K Restaurant, have been integrating core-curriculum through Edible Ed classes to all 5th-8th graders at Orlando Junior Academy since the 2011-12 school year. Cahill wanted to expand the lesson with the kids to include adults, too.

"I wanted to reach out to families, parents, and the community to help them understand the importance of making intentional healthy choices," says Cahill.  "I wanted it to be hands on so that participants can learn from the successes and the mistakes and have a meaningful experience. And I wanted to tap into our incredible wealth of chefs, community experts and our garden."

Chef Night features a volunteer guest chef, a healthy menu that can be replicated at home, a fun environment to cook in, an outing to the garden to forage for ingredients and a delicious shared meal. Says Cahill, "Participants learn not just from the instructor but from the other guests. There's a real cross-pollination of information sharing about books, spices, allergies and healthy alternatives. I've found that people who've come once usually return, with friends."

The next Chef Night is Wednesday, August 17 from 6-8:30PM, led by Chef Ryan Freelove, new restauranteur of Market to Table. Find the menu and all the details at




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.


2016 Bite Night

Thank you, Orlando Weekly, for making Edible Education Experience the beneficiary for this year’s Bite Night Silent Auction!  Because of this partnership, EEE received over $5,000 to further its important mission of grounding education in a garden experience.

This year’s event was held on June 27, at the Orchid Room on Church Street, which led to 1,200 attendees enjoying a night of fine food from over 21 local restaurants. Once again, K Restaurant was “in the house” highlighting fresh local fare and beloved volunteers helped set up and over see the auction tables.

The Silent Auction and, newly added Raffle, increased the evening’s fun. We’re very grateful to the businesses that donated items and encourage our readers to support:

    Artegon Marketplace
    Artisan’s Table    
    Baoery Asian Gastropub
    Black Rooster Taqueria
    CFE Arena
    Dave & Busters
    Disney on Ice
    Downtown Credo
    Florida Dairy Council
    Great Escape Room
    Hard Rock Cafe
    Jamba Juice
    K Restaurant
    Maddy’s Craft & Cru
    Mannix Vanilla
    Maxine’s on Shine
    Mountain Kettle Korn
    Negra Modelo

    Orlando Magic
    Orlando Predators
    Orlando Weekly

    Publix Aprons School
    Resouluna Advanced
       Aesthetic Therapy

    Simply 7 Snacks
    Soco Restaurant
    Strongtree Coffee
    Ultnera Brows

We also very much appreciate Brad, Rachel, Zackary, and the entire Orlando Weekly team, and enjoyed our turn to host when Orlando Weekly came to visit the future site of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden. Orlando Weekly’s annual Bite 30 and Bite Night events is a true partnership of local media, supporting local chefs, supporting a local foodie cause for kids. Edible Education Experience is honored to be that cause.

Dear Reader, plan to attend next year's Bite Night and in the meantime, support the above fine businesses when you can.


From Seed to Table to Classroom

Bright and early on June 22 & 23, twenty teachers and community leaders, representing 11 area schools, gathered to enjoy two extraordinary days of cooking with chefs and hands-on gardening. This 5th annual Edible Schoolyard Academy was presented by Edible Education Experience and hosted at Orlando Junior Academy.

Discussions and activities provided attendees with practical help for building or improving their own school gardens and gave inspiration towards integrating cooking and gardening into school curriculum. Cooking lessons included: Written food memories, history of pasta making, ease of processing nut butters, basic knife skills and table etiquette. Gardening lessons explored: Science of composting, math relevance when building a trellis, literacy principals found in flower arranging and introduction to readily available resources that include standards-based lesson plans. Teachers were also toured through the future Emeril Lagasse Kitchen House & Culinary Garden and were invited to return with their students as a field trip destination.

Academy instruction was led by Sarah Cahill, Certified Raw Food Chef, Kevin Fonzo, Chef/Owner of K Restaurant and Brad Jones, Garden Coordinator. Attendees also received expert advise from guest presenters:

Kristi Hatakka,
  Dept. of Ag and School
  Garden Coordinator for the
  State of Florida
Lora Gilbert,
  OCPS Food Director
Sabrina Miler, 
  OJA Math Specialist
Carianna Farfan, 
  OJA Literacy Specialist

As community partners, Erica Asti of Florida Hospital introduced how schools can invite Mission:Fit and CREATION U to their campus for a fun and interactive health message and Megan Silberman of Jamba Juice brought fresh carrots and apples for on-site juicing as a mid-afternoon snack. Silberman also distributed information as to how schools can partner with Jamba Juice for healthy school fundraisers.

Time for reflection was given at the end of the 2-day session and rave reviews were received:

Loved the recipes and hands-on lessons. Very inspired to “cook” hopefully weekly in class.” Joyce Nichols, Lake Silver Elementary

“I totally enjoyed every minute I spent in the garden. This Professional Development exceeded my expectations. Thank you! The lessons can be easily incorporated into our Science, Math, and Social Studies standards for all grade levels”  Sonia Robinson, Whispering Oaks Elementary

“I am most eager to incorporate ideas like watermelon math in my lesson plans to teach circumference, perimeter and area and to use the measuring of ingredients to teach fractions.”  Michelle O’Reilly, Orlando Junior Academy

Overall, this year's Academy received a satisfaction rate of over 90% and many attendees offered the fact that they would recommend the program to someone they know.    

A big “Thank You” to providers of teacher scholarships and event sponsors: Lake Adair Garden Club, College Park Rotary, Slow Foods Orlando, Winter Park Gardening Club, Edible Orlando Magazine and Whole Foods Market. OCPS and West Learning Community also funded several teachers.

Schools represented were: Dillard Street Elementary
First Congregational Church   PreSchool/Kindergarten
Lake Silver Elementary
Lakeview Middle School
Memorial Middle School
Monarch Learning Academy
Orlando Junior Academy
Tildenville Elementary
Windermere Elementary
Whispering Oak Elementary
and our first international attendance from the Virgin Islands Department of Education. Also in attendance was a representative from Young Environmental Society and an occupational therapist, for the sake of her young clients.

Next year's Academy is already in planning with June 2017 dates to be determined. If you know a school administrator, teacher or parent who is involved with a school garden, tell them about this 2-day workshop. If you are a business and wish to be an event sponsor, please contact

Flying Trusses along with Summertime Watermelon

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. 

Summer Edible Ed for Kids

Imagine 20 kids from Boys & Girls Club, touring the Orlando Junior Academy gardens while sipping on watermelon-mint-lime smoothies and you’ll get a sense of what took place, June 24, when Adventist University partnered with Edible Education Experience.

The kids spent two hours on the OJA campus which included a hands-on cooking experience involving egg cracking and selecting garden fresh herbs as ingredients for an individual, freshly cooked, egg omelette. The garden tour was led by Brad Jones and cooking was led by Chef/Teacher Allyson Schurig, both who volunteered their time and expertise.

The kids were fun and appreciative and impressed the adult leaders with some of their cooking skills and poignant questions. One of the girls, having learned from her dad on ‘How to crack an egg’, assumed the role of teaching her peers and there was a lively discussion over the different naturally-colored eggs that had been locally sourced.

Endearing quotes of the day were: “Are you trying to kill us!?!” (boy’s exclamation upon seeing fresh mint leaves floating in the water dispenser) and, “I like this! I’m going to tell my mom to add grass to our watermelon.” (another boy’s excitement after tasting cubed watermelon with chopped mint).


To learn more about Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida visit:
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