Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cooking in the Open Air

This summer at Lettuce Link we're lucky to have a stellar intern crew. Today, we're featuring the writing of Danielle, a UW student, food policy guru, and garden chef. 

When it’s time for cooking during our children’s classes at the Seattle Community Farm, we set up outside. Stationed under a canopy, we enjoy the fresh air while preparing our snack. Though we set up this way because there aren't any enclosed buildings at the farm, I have noticed that cooking outside is an ideal environment for engaging and educating children about food.

As I child, I spent many summers at the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane. I have great memories of my time there, but I never got to do any cooking or gardening. I am honored to be part of the Lettuce Link teaching team that puts on these classes for campers from the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club summer program. I know that we, along with the Boys and Girls Club staff, are creating positive memories for these kids.
Ripping up chard for Purple Plant Part Pancakes

I love seeing the joy and excitement in our students’ faces when they visit me at the cooking station. Cooking can be sometimes looked at as a chore, or something that only grownups do.

But at the outdoor kitchen of the Seattle Community Farm, everyone is a chef.

The kids see what parts of the plant we eat (or don’t eat) because they are cooking with freshly harvested produce. They chop up veggies while butterflies and bees fly by.

Our kitchen is different than their kitchens at home, and we remind our students that even though they might have tried a food before, they haven’t tried it here. This encourages trying-new-food adventurism, and the kids are often surprised with how much they like what we prepare!

When we wrap up the day and share what we learned, our students always mention how much they enjoyed the cooking station. Here at the Seattle Community Farm, cooking isn't merely the transformation of food from raw ingredients to a delicious snack. It’s an experience of seeing, feeling, and tasting your food as it moves from the soil to your mouth. 

This amazing sensory experience would simply not be possible if we had walls.

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