The Growth of Edible Education Experience "Grounding education in a garden experience"


• With the permission of Orlando Junior Academy (OJA) Principal Nicole Agbonkhese, parent Brad Jones helps 1st grade teacher build a vegetable garden outside one of the classrooms.


• Jones, a regular customer at K Restaurant in College Park, tells Chef-Owner Kevin Fonzo that OJA’s cafeteria has no hot food service because the former cafeteria cook retired. Agbonkhese asks Chef Kevin if he’d help develop a healthy lunch menu for the PreK-8 Seventh-day Adventist school, which follows an all-vegetarian diet. Chef Kevin volunteers to cook lunch for OJA at his nearby restaurant four days a week with volunteer parents delivering it to OJA.

• Partnership with the Florida Hospital For Children (FHFC) Center for Child and Family Wellness begins. Clinical team and FHFC’s Mission:Fit Possible health and wellness edutainers give regular, healthy lifestyles presentations to OJA students with fun, engaging students activities.


• Janice Banks, OJA School Board Member, and Chef Sarah Cahill get involved.

• OJA garden wins Best School Garden award in statewide competition sponsored by University of Florida, Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and Florida Federation of Garden Clubs.

• OJA task force, sponsored by Florida Hospital Community Impact and Florida Hospital Church, attends Alice Water’s three-day Edible Schoolyard (ESY) Teacher Academy in Berkeley, CA. Upon return, volunteers dub program ESY Orlando at OJA (OJA/ESY).

• Chefs Kevin and Sarah pilot a once-a-week cooking class called Nutritional Science Lab for OJA students for nine weeks. Teaching is held in a make-shift kitchen classroom. Whole Foods Market of Winter Park sponsors ingredients. After initial nine weeks, 5th graders petition the OJA School Board to “Save Our Cooking Class!” The Board agrees to fund Sarah Cahill as Chef Instructor.

• OJA/ESY debuts Art in the Garden, a Career Day with artists who demonstrate their craft using the Pollinator Garden as inspiration.


• OJA allocates Professional Development funds to send second task force to attend ESY Teacher Academy in Berkeley, CA. Florida Hospital partially sponsors trip.

• Chef Sarah and Gardner Brad pilot OJA/ESY Teacher Academy with six attendees.

• OJA/ESY forms Advisory Committee. Attendees include: Sarah Cahill; Janice Banks; Nicole Agbonkhese and Anna Adkins (OJA); Dr. Angela Fals and Tamara Dorway (FHFC Center for Child and Family Wellness); Sara Stack (WP Health Foundation), Lois Dorotiak and Adrian Iannone (WF Market); Kevin Fonzo (K Restaurant); Robert Bowden (Leu Gardens); Jason Bingham (Swipe4Kids); Heather Tribou; Gabby Othon (Slow Foods); John Monday (OJA Board); Henry Melendy (MyYardFarm); Brad Jones; and Kendra Lott (Edible Orlando magazine)

• OJA recognizes OJA/ESY Advisory Committee as a sub-committee to the OJA School Board. 26 E. King St., Orlando, FL 32804 www.EdibleEd.org Cell: 407-625-7770


• OJA grants permission for Orlando City Fire Department to practice-burn dilapidated house at then-18 E. King Street.

• Gardner Brad gives presentation at EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival titled “Strawberries, Peanuts and the Quest for World Dominance” and includes photos of OJA/ESY garden.

• Chefs Sarah and Kevin and Gardener Brad present the Second Annual Edible Schoolyard Teacher Academy to 22 Central Florida teachers representing 13 different schools. Edible Orlando magazine provides free ad.

• OJA/ESY begins to develop concept for Kitchen House and Give-Back Garden, including the recruitment of funding partners.

• Whole Foods Market holds National Kids’ Day of Service. Winter Park store chooses vacant lot across from OJA to prep and plant first two plots of community Give-Back Garden.

• Sunday morning gardening begins. Partnership further develops with FHFC’s Center for Child and Family Wellness, with their clinical team providing community gardening and cooking education to at-risk, overweight children, teens, and their families.

• American celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse visits OJA to cook with 5th graders, with a focus on the New Orleans region. Students harvest okra from the garden and cook okra recipes with Chef Emeril, Chef Kevin, and Chef Sarah. The Cooking Channel airs segment of Emeril’s Florida reporting on Chef Kevin and OJA/ESY.

• Fundraising efforts take off, with special events (Sunday Supper Benefit), grant writing, etc.

• Emeril Lagasse Foundation sends board member for site visit and is introduced to FHFC. Together, the two organizations pledge to fund the capital project, then estimated at 500K.


• OJA/ESY holds Town Hall Meeting to discuss project’s future. Chef Kevin explains why kitchen classroom space is needed to teach nutritional science, as professional chefs try to teach nutrition and life skills to students in a make-shift space with no hot water, no oven or stove, and less-than-ideal sanitary conditions. OJA Board Chair John Monday and architect Jose Venegas lend their support.

• OJA/ESY holds its first Iron Chef Jr. Competition for its 5th-8th graders. Students work in teams to create healthy, tasty dish from recipes created by OJA/ESY Kitchen Classroom Chefs. Students must use fresh ingredients harvested straight from the OJA/ESY Garden. The competition serves as the final exam for the nine-week Nutritional Science Lab unit.

• Gardner Brad and Chef Sarah give presentation at EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival titled “Watermelon Math” and include photos of OJA/ESY Garden and Nutritional Science Lab.

• OJA/ESY officially changes name to Edible Education Experience (EdibleEdExp) and becomes its own 501(c)3 public nonprofit. Florida Hospital for Children, through its Healthy 100 Kids initiative, assigns $450,000 to the EdibleEdExp capital campaign.

• EdibleEdExp hosts its Third Annual Edible Schoolyard Teacher Academy with maximum attendance. 26 E. King St., Orlando, FL 32804 www.EdibleEd.org Cell: 407-625-7770

• Mary Sukow becomes OJA Food Service Director and begins adding garden veggies and fresh herbs to the school’s hot lunch menu.

• James Hurst of Florida Hospital Design & Construction Department becomes Owner’s Rep for capital project and brings pre-construction team to the table: HuntonBrady Architects; Jose Venegas, Design Architect; TLC Structural Engineering; Poulos & Bennett Civil Engineering; and FosterConant Landscape Architects.

• EdibleEdExp holds ground-breaking ceremony for new Kitchen House & Culinary Garden. Brian Kish, President of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, announces its single largest grant of $250,000 with the naming of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden.

• EdibleEdExp holds first annual School Garden Field Trip & Empathy Tour to develop community partner relationships, to encourage others, and to be inspired for our own work ahead. Tour includes visits to Princeton Elementary, New Image Youth Center, Lift Orlando, Creation Kids Village, and Bithlo Transformation Village.

• OJA largely donates land valued at 78K per lot. EdibleEdExp pays off mortgage balance of approximately 20K.


• After interviewing contractors and reviewing several bids, OJA/ESY chooses Rob Smith, owner of E2Homes with a “heart for the project,” as the contractor with a bid of 800K.

• Gardener Brad and Jose Venegas of Midtown Architectural Studio give presentation at EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival titled “Gardening in the Public Realm”.

• Jamba Juice awards mini-grant to EdibleEdExp.

• Florida Hospital’s Gourmet Soiree, with Emeril Lagasse Foundation staff in attendance, highlights Kitchen House project.

• The FHFC’s Center for Child and Family Wellness and Mission:Fit Possible hold their annual Sportswear Fashion Show. EdibleEdExp participates by giving garden tours.

• EdibleEdExp hosts its Fourth Annual Edible Schoolyard Teacher Academy.

• EdibleEdExp hosts its first Chef Night with Kathleen Blake, Owner/Chef of Orlando-based Rusty Spoon restaurant.

• EdibleEdExp submits building plans for permit.

• Downtown Credo Rally Makers grant three-month mentorship. Advisory Committee members Jose Venegas, Megan Padilla, and Janice Banks work with PowerDMS to launch EdibleEdExp website.


• EdibleEdExp receives construction permit. • Emeril Lagasse Foundation Board conducts construction site visit.

• Tractor arrives and grading of lot begins. 26 E. King St., Orlando, FL 32804 www.EdibleEd.org Cell: 407-625-7770

• Gardener Brad and Dr. Angela Fals from FHFC Center for Child and Family Wellness give presentation at EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival titled “Growing Kids in a Garden.”

• EdibleEdExp hosts its Fifth Annual Edible Schoolyard Teacher Academy along with Kristi Hatakka of Florida Department of Agriculture.

• Chef Allyson Schurig volunteers with Gardener Brad to host EdibleEdExp event for 20 kids from Boys & Girls Club in partnership with Adventist University.

.• OJA further develops curriculum integration via interactive journals, led by teacher Sabrina Miler.

• EdibleEdExp does NOT receive expected funding for 155K proposed budget for future operations. Work continues on a mostly volunteer basis.

• Florida Hospital signs Intent to Lease for Kitchen House office space at discounted partner rate of 12K annually.

• Central Florida Foundation online profile goes LIVE, making EdibleEdExp an accredited community foundation.

• Advisory Committee welcomes Lisa Beach, freelance writer, who develops Media Kit and updates website content.


• January 24: EdibleEdExp hosts during-construction team-building event for Noble Inc.

• January 30: Public Allies intern, provided through FH Community Impact, begins work.

• February 5: EdibleEdExp pilots Sunday Morning Gardening special event for kids.

• February 7: EdibleEdExp holds its regular Board Meeting inside Kitchen House for first time. • February 13: Whole Kids Foundation awards mini-grant.

• March 21: EdibleEdExp dedicates Kitchen House and takes team photos.

• April 12: The Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden is Now Open!

Website For the most current information, visit www.EdibleEd.org.

Media Contact Janice Banks, Executive Director, 407-625-7770, janice@EdibleEd.org