From the Ground Up: Preparing for Spring and Summer Planting

by Melissa Harding

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As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and will be communicating with students at their partner institutions. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students. Students will also meet each month for a Saturday workshop involving activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. Calling themselves the Global Chefs, this group of students is excited to learn more about what food means in their lives.

Despite a crazy snow storm the night before that made the roads almost impassable, the latest meeting of the Global Chefs was jam-packed with fun activities. Not only did they get in quite a bit of planting and cooking, but they also had a chance to talk with some very special guests – the Nigerian team! First thing Saturday morning, the Nigerian team called the Global Chefs to learn more about their work. They asked lots of great questions, especially about what we are planting and cooking. It is very hot where they are, so their team is planting maize, rice and yams. When our teens told them how cold it was here and that we were getting so much snow, the Nigerians were amazed! One of the Global Chefs grabbed a handful of snow to show them and they couldn’t believe it. Both teams were so excited to finally talk to each other and can’t wait to do it again!

After this wonderful conversation, the teens moved on to seed starting. They started a total of nine trays of seeds for future planting. Half of those trays were filled with cold weather crops, like lettuce and broccoli, to be placed in Phipps Edible Garden in April. The other half of the trays were filled with warm weather crops, like tomatoes and peppers, and will be used by the 2014 Phipps summer interns to start their garden this June. Through this process, the teens learned about planting seeds, germination, and the best way to care for seedlings.

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Finally, the group made a delicious meal using some of their own recipes from the past year. Joined by Kelsey Weisgerber, Director or Food Services for the Environmental Charter School, and Emily Schmiddlap of Just Harvest, the Global Chefs made yet another feast fit for a king! They cooked savory chicken and tofu kabobs, complete with peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, and a yummy peanut satay. They also made rice and goti, an Indian bread recipe. Finally, for dessert they cooked a delicious Indian pudding, sheer kurma.

Next month, the Global Chefs will be meeting at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus for a full-day retreat. The teens will get to work on their cookbook mock-ups and learn more about urban gardening on the 388-acre campus farm.

To see more photos from the day, check out the slideshow below!

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger.

2 Comments to “From the Ground Up: Preparing for Spring and Summer Planting”

  1. this is interesting becouse it will enable the participants to lern how to raise a seedling and to know the nutritional values of various food. And it gives us the appurtunity to lern many things.its becouse of this programe some of our our participant start to visit farm for the name of planting they never realize it in their life how to raise a plant. Thanks to all of you. NIGERIAN PATNERS.

    • Wow, that is SO great to hear! We are hoping that every participant comes away from this program with the knowledge to plant crops and prepare healthful foods. I’m glad that your program is making such a big difference in the lives of its students!! :)

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