Garden Kitchen Lab had an incredible year at our annual collaboration with Camp Dyckman. We had to provide the garden’s harvest, growing experience, kitchen supplies, and ingredients. Dyckman brings in the children. A perfect collab! This year, Director of Education Fabiola Cáceres added a new crop: Purple West African yam from Ghana, one of the plants that allow Cáceres to explain the hard forced labor of the enslaved people who lived and worked for the Dyckman family during colonial times. We honor the indigenous Lenape people who inhabit Mannahatta, the island of many hills, as the Lenni Lenape people called it thousands of years ago. In their honor, we grow corn, beans, and squash. This year, the children prepared a salsa de Mojo Verde using cilantro and added it to fried plantains, a typical Dominican dish. We loved seeing Dominican neighborhood children showing their campmates pridefully how to prepare these dishes. And, of course, we continue offering our favorite staples, pesto pasta and a frozen limeade using basil and mint and garnishing with lavender from the garden.
Another partnership we developed with DFM is Traveling Kitchen or Cocina Móvil, a bilingual cooking program highlighting some of the culture’s important Dyckman. In 2022, Cáceres invited urban agricultural legend Karen Washington to prepare a Gumbo A La Bronx. Political activist and food justice warrior Washington told us about the cultural importance of this recipe. A dish born in West Africa and popularized during colonial times. Washington told us about her ancestors, her memories of this dish, the enslaved West African people, and their forced journey to America. You can watch the episode here.
Another guest this year was Miledis Santana. A Dominican Inwood resident who prepared us a Moro de Guandules. Cáceres grew guandules in the gardens, and Ms. Santana prepared her beloved childhood dish and told us about her grandparent’s farming their land back home and her journey from the island to New York City. Watch the episode here.
In 2020 Garden Kitchen Lab and DFM created several new programs during the quarantine to tap into the core of social issues—racial issues with the Talking About Race Matters lecture series and food sovereignty with Growing Uptown. These social issues were always there, but the lockdown highlighted racial and social inequalities, and it was impossible not to pay attention to them. We wanted to do our part in helping in a meaningful and impactful way, and we wanted to talk openly about the issues that affected our communities and offer practical and speedy solutions. We are pleased to say that what started as an initiative with a dozen families is now a well-established program with one-hundred people attending workshops from April to September. Cáceres shows how to plant from seed, transplant, compost, use herbs for healing purposes, go garden to table, and ferment. We invite people to experience them at the farmhouse and take the practice back home, where they can make these practices their own. The lessons do not stop at class; a ripple effect continues by bringing the skill set and all the growing supplies to grow herbs and vegetables back home.
We participated in DFM’s Fall Festival, giving away pumpkin bread cooking kits and recipes, a hit at the festival!
And, of course, we would not have been able to do it all without the support of our volunteers, Kaley McDevitt and Sofia Flores; thank you so much, ladies. You are one in a million!
Cheers DFM! And thank you, Inwood, for welcoming us!
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