Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Honey and Harvest

Wednesday, October 12th was a bright, sunny, perfect fall day. Will, Lindsay and I woke with excitement as we anticipated Mr. Fords' class arrival. The bus rolled into the Honeybee research facility with a load of excited Grade 4 students.

Upon meeting Paul at the facility, we were blown away by his knowledge of Honeybees and his ability to appeal to the kids' interest. The room filled with "Oohs" and "Aahs" as he buzzed around speaking about the duties of bees and the huge role they play in our everyday life.

For some of the students, they pushed their limits to feel safe around the bees, which challenged them on a personal level. It also involved a bit of quick-thinking on our part to find alternatives for the kids that weren't comfortable with the situation. 

After learning lots about the anatomy, responsibilities, and importance of honey bees, we re-boarded the bus and headed for the gardens.

 Will went ahead to prepare everything with our wonderful gardener, Martha Gaye, while Lindsay and I played some 'review' games with the kids and got them excited for the next part of the visit. A short bus ride and lots of laughs brought us to the University's on-campus organic gardens (the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming). The weather, being pleasantly cooperative, showed a beautiful array of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and trees.

At the gardens, the kids were given a tour of the property, and explained some fun facts about the different types of plants. They were very engaged in the process!
After the tour, they were given the opportunity to harvest 2 wheel barrows full of butternut squash out in one the fields. This was an amazing hands-on learning opportunity for them because it taught they could see and feel where the food comes from, and make a conscious effort to be a part of that process.
Will was a big fan of the squash as well!
As the afternoon was coming to an end, we took some fun pictures with the class, and sent them home with a brand new "Garden to Table" shirt so they could remember their experience- and hopefully share it with others.

The day was a great success, and we're ready to gear up for the next one!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Garden 2 Table 2016- The New Team

Hello everyone,

My name is William Boulter and I am a 2nd year student here at the University of Guelph.  I am enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce Hotel and Food Administration program.  I am also  a member of the Varsity Swim team.

I am very excited to get Garden 2 Table started this year! I think it is very important for people to know where their food comes from and with bringing students to the garden here at Guelph, we can show the the value of local organic food.  Not only do the students learn about organics, they get the opportunity to harvest food right from our organic farm at the university and then go cook it in our food lab, literally brining their food from the garden to the table.  I have always had a passion for food and I am excited to learn more about organics myself and find ways to incorporate what I've learned into my cooking.

Myself along with my team can't wait for the first visit to get underway and we are looking forward to a very successful year!

Hello foodies, gardeners, and general listeners!

My name is Emily Robinson, and I am a second year student at the University of Guelph, also doing my Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel and Food, with a Coop. I have been drawn to food since about the time this photo was taken. However, I didn't always know exactly how I could make it a part of my life longterm. Cooking, eating, and staying healthy are three prominent pillars in my everyday life. Cooking reminds us to slow down and check in with ourselves, eating allows us to indulge in simple pleasures multiple times a day, and a healthy lifestyle allows us to take care of our bodies in appreciation for all that they can do for us. It wasn't until the last few months of grade 12 that I realized I wanted to pursue food and health, as a result of wanting to find passion, not paycheques. It truly is a rewarding industry, especially when given the chance to go further, and to make a difference within the parameters of the 'norm'.

I have been excited about Garden 2 Table since starting at Guelph, seeing as it lines up perfectly with my values towards food. It is so so important to understand where your food comes from, from a personal, environmental and economic standpoint. I am glad to be able to share my passion and vision as we get prepared for our first classroom visit to the Gardens this coming Wednesday (October 12th). There is no better way to shape the future, than to reach out to the children of today, and in doing so I hope we can influence even one or two of them to make more conscious decisions every day.

I'm not even entirely sure what we'll get up to over this next year, but stay tuned for much more excitement and inspiration!

Greetings fellow garden to table followers,

My name is Lindsay Weatherall and I too am in my second year with Will and Emily, also in the same Bachelor of Commerce Hotel and Food Administration program, with a Coop. We spend a lot of time together. I have been involved with the hospitality industry since I was 14, working in a bakery, then a restaurant, and recently a country club. I spent the summer working at Piping Rock Club which allowed me to wrap my head around hospitality even more. I've always loved the hospitality industry, I'm a very social person and really enjoy creating experiences for people every chance I get.

When I heard about the garden to table program in my first year Intro. to Hospitality course I fell in love with the idea. Reaching out to elementary schools and being able to teach students about where food comes from and show them the different components that go into creating the food that is put on your table is an incredible opportunity I wish I had when I was younger.I feel it is very important for young students to get a grasp on the concepts that the Garden to Table program can teach them, because not every child has the same opportunities or access to gardens at home or confidence to try cooking their own food. I am really looking forward to reaching out to the classes and experiencing these visits. Food and people are my passion and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be apart of a program where I can teach students about both. As we are preparing for this Wednesday being our first visit with a classroom also have the amazing opportunity to visit the Apiary in Guelph, it should be a great time!

I am very excited to see what's in store for us year, and I am even more excited about the new Garden to Table team and the experiences we will have this coming year!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mr. Ford's Grade Four Class

Today we had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Ford's fourth grade class from Chris Hadfield Public School to the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming. The students arrived to the garden and began with a tour of the grounds which was lead by Martha. They made their way throughout the garden and got to see the different plants, greenhouses and fields. They also saw the pond, the bee hive and the compost piles.

After the tour, the students made their way to the greenhouse where they each planted a flower and a seed that they got to take home.

Next, the class split up into two groups. The first group got to use pitch forks to break up fresh soil from below what used to be a compost pile. The soil was dark and beautiful and had lots of worms and bugs in it which we learned is very beneficial to the plants. The next group helped separate flowers from grass so that the grass plants would not take over the flowers. They then composted the grass and got to plant new sunflower seeds!

After the garden visit was complete, the students made their way to the food lab where they got to use some of the fresh ingredients they picked in the garden. The students began by making honey granola. They melted brown sugar, honey, vanilla and soy butter together and then mixed in oats, cranberries, and other delicious goodies and let them set in the fridge. Once the granola was finished, each student created their own personal salad dressing that they got to take home with them! There were lots of fresh herbs from the garden for the students to choose from and each salad dressing was unique. Next, the class cut up veggies and then they all sat together to enjoy their granola and veggies paired with honey vinaigrette.

It was a pleasure to welcome Mr. Ford's class today. All of the students and volunteers had a great time and learned about where their food comes from. Thank you to Mr. Ford and Professor McAdams and of course Martha Gay for making such a great day possible!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

St. Joseph's Outreach Event

On Monday April 11 we had the opportunity to go to St. Josephs Catholic Elementary school where we were able to join in on the Grade 7 and Grade 5 classes. We began the day in the Grade 7 room where we introduced ourselves. All four of the Garden 2 Table members were able to attend; Bonnie, Erika, Abby and Callie. The grade 7 room was full of plants and flowers. The teacher is in love with gardening and we loved the atmosphere of the room.

After introductions the class was split up into 3 groups and Abby and Bonnie brought the first group down into the school's kitchen for the first part of pizza prep to occur. They started with safe knife and hand washing skills before the kids began their activity. Each student either cut tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or green peppers. There was also a station for grating cheese, and spreading tomato sauce onto the pizza dough. Fresh arugula was also supplied which came in a planter with soil and so the kids were able to pick the arugula straight off of the plant.

The kids really liked this feature and the plant was given to the teacher to be kept in the classroom with all her other plants. Most of the ingredients were organic from Goodness Me in Guelph. We also had locally grown mushrooms and Ontario produced sauce.

While the first group was in the kitchen having loads of fun with Bonnie and Abby. Erika and I were talking to the Grade 7's about all the different ingredients in a pizza. We asked them what their favourite toppings were, how many food groups can be found in one pizza and how we can make pizza a healthier option. We then worked through all the different ingredients to talk about their processing and where they come from. We started with the dough and did the yeast experiment and told the kids how yeast works. They were very intrigued and seemed to love that we did the experiment to show them yeast working right in front of them and how it works in our bread.

We then showed a video on how cheese is made and the process of a tomato plant growing. These videos were appreciated by the class and we had lots of good questions and comments throughout. While all of the ingredients were being described, the groups would go and start their prep after the previous group was finished in the kitchen.

We also had an activity where we gave each student pictures of different fruits and vegetable and they had to decide whether the food could be grown locally or if it needed to be purchased from other places around the world. The Grade 7's worked very well as a team to figure out these ingredients and learned how important eating locally is. After each group had a chance to go prep their pizza, the pizza was brought back up and served so that it could be eaten together with everyone. While the class ate the pizza we played jeopardy that contained questions dealing with food safety, nutrition, gardening, and local and organic food. The kids all said they loved the pizza! 

This exact process was done in the Grade 5 class and both classes got to enjoy pizza with whatever ingredients they chose and had an interactive learning experience about food, how and where it grows and nutrition information. Thanks so much St. Joseph's!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sacred Heart

Today, we had the privilege of joining the grade 7 class at Sacred Heart school. The class was very energetic and we really enjoyed our visit!

We began the day with an experiment where we filled water bottles with warm water, yeast and sugar and attached balloons to the top of the water bottles. We let them all sit in a row at the front of the classroom and by the end of our visit the balloons were all inflated!

Next, we talked about many people's favorite food: Pizza! We talked about ways to make pizza more healthy like home made pizza sauce, extra veggies, and using whole wheat naan bread instead of white crust. We also learned about the cheese making process.

After that, the class made their way to the kitchen and we began making our healthy pizzas. The students broke up into four groups and they spread sauce on the pitas, washed spinach, sliced veggies including peppers, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms and grated cheese. The students were able to practice safe knife handling too. Once all of the pizzas were made we put them in the oven and made our way back to the classroom.

We finished the day with a game of nutrition Jeopardy and then enjoyed the pizzas we made together. The students agreed that the healthier version was still delicious.

Thanks for having us Grade 7's. It's been a slice!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Big Brothers Big Sisters

On February 6, 2016, we spent the day with 6 big brothers and big sisters along with their littles. This was our first outreach event of the new year and it took place at Pj's Restaurant in the atrium on The University of Guelph Campus.

The day began with the group getting to know each other.  A scavenger hunt took place, where the littles had to search the room for hidden tips and information about nutritious food, food safety and organic farming. After this activity we started cooking in The Pj's kitchen. The group started with making zucchini, carrot muffins, that used apple sauce to make them very moist! After the muffins were made and cooled, bigs and littles decorated them with cream cheese frosting and yummy treats. This was a way to show the littles how to make a healthier version of a cupcake or muffin.

 Half of the group then started to work on vegetarian chili, filled with lots of vegetables and beans. Another group worked on a meat chili, made with ground beef. Many of the littles learned new food skills with the help of their bigs. Fresh focaccia, topped with rosemary was also prepared to accompany the chili. We were fortunate that one of the bigs was a trained chef, as she helped us with the bread recipe. It was a learning experience for everyone involved. Littles learned about the importance of composting and the chili recipe taught the littles that a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes can be added to a dish to make it healthier. We also did a science experiment with the group that demonstrated that yeast and sugar water, gives off carbon dioxide which can fill a balloon. This characteristic of yeast  gives bread its airy quality.

After the meal was prepared, the group sat down to share the meal together. Everything tasted very delicious, and the bigs and the littles were proud of what they had cooked. This event was a huge success and the bigs provided feedback that they enjoyed cooking with their littles.

We would like to thank Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph for participating in this event along with our wonderful volunteers who helped us make this day a huge success.