Garden Kitchen Lab is a backyard-to-table, science-based, hands-on educational experience offered at certain recreation centers. An intergenerational, cross cultural educational model that combines urban agriculture, culinary and STEAM disciplines.
This seasonal program provides youth with the skills to start and sustain a food-producing garden, while demonstrating the links between food production, the environment, and their health.
Garden Kitchen Lab was designed for children, shaped over the last 5 years by feedback from children and educators’ transformative experiences. The current curriculum captures this ‘magic’, and turns it into a readily implementable program of activities.
The curriculum aims to instill a love of nature and healthy food, as children experience working with the garden and its produce throughout the seasons. The curriculum themes are extremely diverse: Horticulture and cooking are the obvious components, but many other areas are explored as well, including:
- Anthropology and the role of food in various cultures;
- Biology and the cycle of life and death as illustrated through composting in the garden;
- Chemistry and the composition and transformation of cells as explored through microscopes in the lab;
- Physics and what happens at a molecular level when food transforms in fermentation, when one mixes it or makes a reduction (molecular gastronomy); and
- Advocacy and how to talk about healthy eating in media and in your own video-stories and stop-motion videos.
The diversity of topics in the program makes it appealing to a wide variety of children: some revel in the science, others in cooking and making things from the garden, others in eating. While the curriculum is scientifically “correct”, it has also been specially developed to capture the attention of all children, and to empower them through important roles (such as sous-chef or documentary photographer). This intricate mix of science and whimsy is what makes Garden Kitchen Lab a unique and powerful program for engaging children and their communities.