Monday, November 17, 2014

Big Brothers Big Sisters at PJs

We had our first outreach event this Saturday in PJ’s Restaurant on campus! We paired up with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters group in Guelph for an afternoon filled with lots of cooking, eating and learning! There was a group of 5 “Bigs” and 5 “Littles” who arrived at 10am. We started by going through a tour of what a professional kitchen looks like and how things run. After a short presentation on hand washing and safe knife skills, we broke off into two teams to start working through a jam-packed list of recipes. 

Everyone started out by making the rosemary focaccia bread- the famous recipe of PJ’s restaurant. We talked about how yeast is actually alive, and that’s what makes the bread rise. While the focaccia dough was rising in the proofer, we got started on creating the homemade sauce for the vegetable lasagne. It was learning experience for most the group in learning to use a scale to measure ingredients instead of the traditional measuring cups and spoons. We even got the children to help with the dishwasher “assembly line” and show them how a restaurant kitchen can get all their dishes done so quickly!

Once the sauce was simmering on the stove everyone helped out to stretch out the focaccia dough and had fun poking little holes all over it before it went in the oven to bake. Next was the broccoli salad, which involved chopping up all the vegetables and making a homemade dressing. While half of the group worked on the salad, the remaining children helped measure all the ingredients for the black bean brownies. Everything was measured into a food processor, another new tool the children learned how it worked. This was the first time most of the group (including volunteers!) had tried brownies made with black beans instead of flour. I guess this is what happens when you let nutrition students plan the dessert menu!

The timing worked out perfectly so that we started with the salad for our first course while everything was finishing baking. We got seated for lunch around 12:45 and had an excellent family-style meal of homemade lasagne and focaccia- it was a huge hit! Even the black bean brownies were enjoyed by everyone, a few children even said they would try making them again at home! By 1:30 we were started to clean up and say our goodbyes. The group left with full bellies and a recipe book of everything we made. We can’t wait to hopefully cook with them again sometime this winter!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rickson Ridge Grade 2 Class at the Honey Bee Research Centre

Today was a very exciting day for Garden2Table. We got take a grade 2 class from Rickson Ridge to visit the Honey Bee Research Center on campus. With so many eager-to-learn kids and beautiful fall weather, it was a recipe for success.

            We started off by learning all about the different types of bees and what makes a honeybee a honeybee. It is so interesting how bees use such a complicated system in order to create the honey. We also learned all about the other reasons bees are so important such as pollinating plants, which feed us as well as the animals we eat. After a lot of pictures and even some dead bees, and of course some bee dancing, it was time to go take a look at the hives!

            The Honey Bee Research Center maintains about 300 bee colonies! We got to a look at one of the hives to see what goes on inside. Not surprising, when we took out a part of the honeycomb, it was covered in bees and lots of honey!  We even got to try a very special type of honey called goldenrod honey, it was delicious!

            After learning just about everything we could about bees and honey, we took the school bus over to the arboretum for some fun and games. Starting off with a quick game similar to duck, duck, goose, but much for fun because we were buzzing bees instead! Then we divided up the class into worker bees (girls) and drones (boys) and simulated the honey making process. The worker bees were looking for honey (hidden puzzle pieces) to bring back the Queen Bee! Everyone worked together to put the puzzles together to create our honey! It was pretty tough dodging the bears (Garden2Table coordinators) that were trying to take the honey!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

St. Ignatious Grade 7s (second class) in the Garden!

What a fantastic way to finish our garden tours this season! The spirited, insightful grade 7 class from St. Ignatious came out to learn all about organic farming….and of course to get their hands dirty.

            The garden tour highlighted the innovative techniques in preserving the crops such as the use of comfrey tea and shiny objects that help keep our “frenimies” a.k.a the animals away. The ever-popular spilanthes plant kept its reputation in intriguing all of the kids to try it, followed by almost all of them spitting it out! It is interesting to think about the medicinal plants and how they were used! Imagine having to eat some spilanthes in order to get rid of a toothache…YUCK!

            Once the kids learned all about the farm, it was time to get dirty! We grabbed our pitch forks and headed to the back field to harvest some red potatoes! After lots of hard work we took our buckets of dirty potatoes to be cleaned and ready for the thanksgiving market. Once the potatoes were ready to go we moved on to plucking out all of the delicious carrots for the market as well!

Cant wait to see you back here for some cooking and of course eating!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chris Hadfield and Irma Coulson in the Kitchen and St. Ignatius Public School in the Garden!

This week we were fortunate enough to have Chris Hadfield and Irma Coulson’s Eco-teams come to the kitchen. They were a FANTASTIC group of students and teachers, who were all incredibly passionate about gardening and whole food, and eager to learn new skills and knowledge.
On Monday, September 29th the students came to PJ’s restaurant on campus to use the state-of-the-art kitchen and appliances. Everybody was very enthusiastic about putting their kitchen skills to work and all the recipes turned out delicious. We made a Fall Harvest Salad with roasted beets, carrots and parsnips on a bed of mixed arugula, Celeriac and Potato Soup, and for dessert an Apple Cobbler. All of these recipes were inspired by what is available in our garden as well as at local farmer’s markets right now.

Later on in the week we welcomed Grade 7 students from St. Ignatius Public school to the garden. It was a beautiful fall morning to be at the Urban Organic Farm, even with the smell of comfrey tea lingering in the air. Our Garden Assistant, Hannah, took the kids for a tour of the garden and talked about all of the eco-friendly and sustainable practices the garden uses. We also tried spilanthes,  which is also named the toothache plant. But unfortunately, it was nothing like the minty flavor of Oragel. To say the least, most students (and volunteers) will probably not be using this remedy in the near future.


After a quick snack break and sometime to enjoy the scenery and sun, the students help harvest some potatoes that we will be using in a soup for their kitchen visit! 

This group of students will be back on campus on Monday to cook up a storm with the Garden2Table team and volunteers!

Friday’s visit marked our second last garden visit of the year. As the days get cooler the Garden2Table team is sad to say goodbye to this part of the program for another year!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chris Hadfield "Eco Hawks" and Irma Coulson "Garden Managers" Garden Day

Well, we definitely lucked out with the weather today- what a beautiful morning we had in the garden! The weather was warm and sunny for our group of 20 grade 7/8 students from Chris Hadfield and Irma Coulson Public School. It was great to have an advanced group of “Eco Hawks” and “Garden Managers” to teach them some more in-depth aspects of organic farming. We started the morning with a tour of the garden and informative talk by University of Guelph Professor Bruce McAdams about crop rotation, companion planting and what it means to be an organic garden. The student were able to try and one peppery tasting flower which is used to keep caterpillars from eating the garden’s lettuce. 

         After the garden tour, our Garden 2 Table team spoke to the students about what kinds of classes they can take in high school relating to sustainable, organic farming and gardening in preparation for University. They learnt that there are vast opportunities including clubs and school gardens they can get involved in once they’re graduated elementary school.

            We were grateful to have Hannah Batten, a University of Guelph student who works and volunteers in the garden, to give a thorough tour of the types of plants grown in the garden and when certain plants are harvested. The children (and volunteers!) were surprised to learn that one year the garden manager, Martha Gay, used lion poop to hang in stockings around the garden to keep deer and other hungry critters away from her crops!

After Hannah finished her tour around the garden, Martha showed the children what celeriac looks like once harvested and how to process it for consumption. The children learned what a labour intensive job it is to harvest all the vegetables for the weekly farmer’s market on campus. To finish up the afternoon, everyone moved to the greenhouse to start bundling sage, tulsi basil and Greek oregano to take home to their families. The children were in interested in learning about not only the edible aspect of herbs, but also their medicinal properties.

Next Monday, the children will be returning to PJ’s Restaurant on campus to try cooking with celeriac and various other herbs that were harvested in the garden. We can’t wait to have them back for another fun, educational day in the kitchen!