Archive for ‘From the Ground Up’

August 15, 2014

From the Ground Up: Final Project Video

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 partnered with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students learned about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and communicated with students at their partner institutions. This project lasted September to June 2014, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that was designed and created by participating students. Students also met 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 learned more about what food means in their lives.

Our final video summarizing the From the Ground Up program is finally here! This short movie shows the love of learning and the spirit of collaboration that infused this project. We are so proud of the work that our students have done throughout the entire program and grateful for the opportunity to have such a wonderful cultural exchange.

To read about the entire project, check out our From the Ground Up posts.

The above video was a collaboration project of Phipps staff, interns and volunteers.

June 6, 2014

From the Ground Up: Visit From the Nigerians and a Community Feast!

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.

May was a busy month for our Global Chefs! The Nigerian students from Gidan Makama Museum came to visit for the last week of the month, culminating in a community feast for everyone who has been involved with the program over the course of the year.

The Nigerians arrived late Sunday night after spending almost a full 24 hours traveling. We are so grateful that they were willing to make such a long  journey! We met that at the airport and took them to their hotel in Oakland near Phipps. The next day, the Nigerian students and the Global chefs met and walked to lunch at the Chinese buffet restaurant near the hotel. The Nigerians loved the variety of food and everyone had a great time meeting each other for the first time.

On Tuesday, the Nigerians had a full tour of Phipps. They not only were able to spend time among the flowers in our beautiful glass houses, but they were also able to learn about our sustainable building initiatives and walk through the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. Since our landscape is so different from Nigeria’s, the students also went to Frick Park, a local city park to take a walk and experience a deciduous forest. Unfortunately, it rained a little too hard and the students got caught in a thunderstorm! However, they were still able to have an immersive experience in our forested areas.

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On Wednesday, the Nigerians took tours of Giant Eagle and of Whole Foods, two local grocery stores. Both stores provided kind staff who took the students around their stores. At Whole Foods, the Nigerians were provided with lunch and a nutrition tour of the store. In the evening, both the Nigerians and the Global Chefs enjoyed an outdoor picnic at the Phipps Garden Center near Mellon Park. They ate a fun meal on the lawn and then played outdoor games with Phipps staff anf volunteers.

On Thursday, the Nigerian students took a tour of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. They saw dinosaur bones for the first time and marveled at the sheer size of them. They also loved visiting the Polar World exhibit, the Hall of Gems and the Hall of Architecture. They ate lunch at a nearby restaurant specializing in Afghan food, which they really liked. After their time in the museum, the Nigerian students said that they really wanted to do some “American shopping”; in particular, they wanted to visit a Target store. The students had a great time looking at clothes and other items before dinner. That evening, they got together again with the Global Chefs for a guided boat ride on the Gateway Clipper down the Allegheny River. For many students, this was their first time on a boat. Students learned about the history of Pittsburgh and its bridges from the tour guide while snapping pictures and enjoying the ride.

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On Friday, the Nigerians went to the Children’s Museum, which is the home of the other Pittsburgh Museum Connects grant winners. Kimberly Bracken, the coordinator of that program, has been working on a cultural exchange from with students from a museum in Ecuador. Kim met our students and showed them around the gardens at the museum. The Nigerians also had fun screen printing and making art in the museum’s exhibits.

Saturday was feast day! Early in the morning, the Global Chefs came to Phipps to harvest greens and other salad fixings from the Edible Garden. They harvested the seeds that they planted several months ago at one of their workshops; for many of the students, this full circle was exciting to be a part of. The Nigerians arrived after and both groups spent some time having good discussions about their respective food cultures. The Nigerians shared their reflections on their home program and their time spent in America. One thing that both groups mentioned that their favorite part of the program was the time spent planting and harvesting in the garden. The two groups also exchanged gifts; the Nigerians brought lovely leather handmade bags and wallets for the Phipps students and staff and we gave the Nigerians personalized garden trowels to commemorate their visit to our gardens. Before the feast, both groups worked together to create a big, beautiful salad with dressing and took it up to the Special Events Hall where the feast was happening. Friends and helpers from the past year, as well as family members and Phipps staff, all sat down with the students to celebrate their achievements over the past year. It was a wonderful time for everyone!

After the feast, the Nigerians and the Global Chefs all went to see a movie and spend some last time together before the Nigerians left on Sunday. Everyone agrees it was a wonderful visit. We are so happy that we were able to share this great cultural learning experience with students from both museums!

To see more photos from the Nigerian’s visit, check out the slideshow below!

 

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The above photos were taken by Phipps staff and volunteers.

 

April 16, 2014

From the Ground Up: Crafting Cookbooks and Planting Plugs

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.

As the Museums Connect project starts winding down to the final few months, the Global Chefs are moving towards thinking more about their final projects: the community feast they are planning with their Nigerian counterparts and the culturally-diverse cookbook they are creating. Last weekend, a beautiful day filled with sunshine and warm weather was on order and the students spent the day planting in our Edible Garden and working on their individual cookbook pages.

To begin, the students met with Phipps staffer Mike Bechtel, a display horticulturalist in the Edible Garden. Using the plans they created for their beds during the March workshops, the students planted plugs of cool weather crops that they had started from seeds in February. They planted Asian leafy greens, swiss chard, lettuce, beets and radishes. When harvested, some of these plants will be used for the Phipps Café and others for the community feast in May.

After planting, the students attended a two-hour workshop by Katy DeMint and Nora Gilchrist from the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse focusing on using repurposed items to create their individual cookbook pages. This book will contain recipes from the students and their families, many of which were recreated during the workshops throughout the year. When finished, it will be displayed both in Phipps upcoming Tropical Forest: Congo show and at the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria. The students also had a chance to create small books containing all of the recipes that cooked at the preceding workshops to take home with them.

Finally, the Global Chefs Skyped with their counterparts in Nigeria. Even though they did not have a workshop on the same day the our students, the Nigerians were so excited to talk to them that they all came in on their day off to do so. Once again, the Global Chefs had a great conversation with their Nigerian peers and are even more excited for their impending visit late this spring. Next month, the students will finish their cookbook pages and start preparations for the upcoming community feast.

To see more pictures from the workshop, check out the slideshow below.

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger.

March 20, 2014

From the Ground Up: Urban Farming at Eden Hall

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.

Last weekend, the Global Chefs took a field trip to Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus, where they experienced what it’s like to work on an urban farm and how their experiences relate to those of their Nigerian partners. This all day workshop was jam-packed with activities and, with the weather cooperating on their side this month, the students had a great time both indoors and out.

To begin, they stepped into the kitchen with Chef Jamie Moore, Director of Sourcing and Sustainability for the Eat ‘n Park group, a local chain of family restaurants. Joining him were Nancy Hanst of Slow Food Pittsburgh and Kathy Brinjack. Together, they helped the Global Chefs cook an Asian-inspired meal based on the students’ own recipes. They cooked chicken fried rice and vegetable stir fry; they also marinated chicken, skirt steak and tofu to add to the stir fry. Finally, they made baked onion rings with panko bread crumbs, a healthier take on one of the student’s favorite recipes. While cooking, some of the students harvested lettuce and tatsoi for the stir fry, while others had ample opportunity to practice their knife and sautéing skills. When finished, this healthy meal was a delicious look into the food culture of some of the Global Chefs.

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After lunch, the students toured the Eden Hall campus, getting a closer look at the hoop houses and farm. This 388-acre campus was the perfect place for the students to better understand urban farming and the variety of plants and animals that can be grown in the middle of the city. With the tour under their belts, the students were then tasked with some team-teaching exercises to help them learn more about their Nigerian partners. They each taught the group five facts that they had learned about Nigerian culture, especially surrounding food. The students learned that Nigeria has a huge film industry, called Nollywood, and that it is the most populous country in all of Africa and is an important country for trade.

Finally, the students worked on their cookbook. This was no easy task, as trying to come up with a way to approach such a project can be daunting to say the least. They decided to include all the recipes that they cooked, as well as to include one recipe from each student’s family. Each student also decided to create an original page about their families and individual food cultures. The students ended the day with an assignment to go home and work on their pages. Next month’s meeting will be back in Pittsburgh and focus on planting in the Edible Garden.

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

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger.

February 18, 2014

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.

January 23, 2014

From the Ground Up: Urban Gardening Basics

by Melissa Harding

Jamie and group

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.

For the first meeting of 2014, the Global Chefs were visited by a very exciting guest! Chef Jamie Moore, Director of Sourcing and Sustainability for the Eat ‘n Park group, a local chain of family restaurants, was on hand to help them create a wonderful meal. Joining him were Nancy Hanst and Alyce Amery-Spenser from Slow Food Pittsburgh. Together, they chose a menu from the students’ previously submitted recipes and came up with a delicious combination – green tossed salad, baked moi moi, spicy coconut shrimp soup and sweet potato pie. This was a pretty ambitious menu, but Chef Jamie helped the students pull it off smoothly, teaching them ways to be more efficient in the kitchen. He also modeled the importance of flexibility and substitutions, replacing a hard to find shrimp powder with homemade shrimp broth in the baked moi moi. Finally, he taught food presentation skills, helping the students to create beautiful, individual servings.

While half of the students were cooking, the other half learned about urban gardening and how they can tie their own food consumption to the land. Specifically, they talked about gardening in small spaces, using techniques like vertical growing and inter-lapping plants. They also learned the principles of compost and soil ecology and worked on garden planning.

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Additionally, students shared the recipes that they brought for January’s assignment, which was to bring in recipes featuring vegetables. The recipes they brought ranged widely, including: cornbread; collard greens; summer steak salad; oven-fried onion rings; potato pepper stew; vegetable quiche; gajar halwa, a carrot and nut-based dish; samosas; vegetable stir fry; and pasta and broccoli. February’s assignment, which focuses on the upcoming cookbook, is to bring in a recipe that is presented in a visual mock-up that will represent their vision for the cookbook. The students are very excited and have lots of great ideas – we can’t wait to see what they come up with!

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

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger.

January 7, 2014

From the Ground Up: Holiday Feasting!

by Melissa Harding

On the stove

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.

For the last meeting of the year, the Global Chefs decided to create a holiday feast. Nancy Hanst, Alyce Amery-Spenser and Cathy Brinjack from Slow Food Pittsburgh were on hand to help them create a meal fit for a king. The menu included roasted turkey breast on the bone, roasted sweet potatoes, Japanese yams roasted with citrus juices, and “jalof” rice, a Nigerian dish of pureed vegetables and rice. All of these recipes were brought in by students and chosen by the group as those that best represented their various cultural holiday celebrations. Students practiced their knife skills, as well as their skills in sautéing vegetables, as they cooked their meal.

While some students were cooking, others spent time learning more about food cultures. More specifically, they talked about the role of food in family, community and regional (Pittsburgh) culture. They also talked about food culture in the United States and how it compares to that of their Nigerian counterparts. Finally, they talked about what a healthy diet is comprised of, as well as situations that could prevent people being able to eat a healthy diet.

Additionally, students shared the recipes that they brought for December’s assignment, which was to interview an elder and bring in one of their favorite recipes. With students coming from as diverse of backgrounds as Haiti, Jamaica, Cameroon, Togo and Nigeria, the recipes they brought reflected their many culture.  Examples include akara, a black-eyed pea dish from Nigeria; beignets, or “puff-puffs”, which is one grandmother’s favorite treat; candied yams; stuffed shells; potato salad; veilli, a dish made with cassava from Togo; and friend plantains. January’s assignment is to find a vegetable-based recipe to share.

Finally, students spent time reflecting in their journals. They were asked to choose three strong, positive food memories and write about them, summing up their thoughts in a powerful 6-word statement to share. Most students talked about warmth, family and the importance of their cultures in their statement.

To see more images from the workshop, check out the slideshow below!

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger and some of the students.

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