Tag Archives: Edible Schoolyard

Ugly Vegetables!

img_1310“What makes this carrot prettier than that one?”
“Believe it or not, this carrot tastes exactly the same as that one!”
“That’s a pickle? But why is it so… white?” Oh I get it… It tastes just like a pickle, it’s just an ugly pickle.”
img_1338As we are fully immersed in San Francisco Fall – or technically a San Francisco summer? Here at the Edible Schoolyard we are wrapping up our summer harvests of tomatoes and peppers, while also beginning first rounds of of collards. We made good use of these fresh ingredients to make collard greens for our Greens Over Grains class – a popular lesson shared with us by the broader Edible Schoolyard network. img_1205We also had the pleasure this month of making homemade salsa to accompany our Lettuce Leaf Tacos. With these tacos, the black beans provide a solid source of protein, and the lettuce acts as a nice substitute for tortillas while still providing that desired crunch! img_1287img_1281We are now seeing the beginnings of our winter vegetables, starting with our carrots. Not only did the kids enjoy wrestling these delicious roots from the dirt, but they also found a few prime examples to go along with one of our class readings for the day, “The Ugly Vegetables” by Grace Lin. img_1313This month we spent some time challenging youth members ideas of what certain fruits and vegetables are supposed to look like, introducing exotic heirlooms of beans, carrots and even introducing (as indicated by an opening quote) the albino cucumber. It was fun to see how the kids envisioned what a perfect fruit or vegetable looked like, and to show them that the albino pickles made from our heirloom cucumbers, tasted just as good (if not better) than the typical store-bought ones. Along with our lessons focusing on calories and vitamins, another major theme of this month was that there is more to your average vegetable than what meets the eye!
Now that we’ve peeked an interest, we hope that our members will keep exploring, both in the garden and in the kitchen.

A Taste of Summer

8.31.16-CJ-Cooking-SFW_IMG_3835While we weren’t gone long for summer break at the Edible Schoolyard, we were gone just long enough to come back and be welcomed by a bounty of mature summer crops – cucumbers, lush ears of corn, squash, peppers, as well as multiple varieties of the sweetest cherry tomatoes. So much so, that in the ESY kitchen, we were faced with the fun and inviting question of, “What should we do with all these tomatoes!?” eager to participate. From a “Taste of Summer” elbow macaroni to corn-cucumber salsa, these are just two ways we decided to dedicate our summer crops to our anticipating bellies.8.31.16-CJ-Cooking-SFW_IMG_3815 As we make our way into the school year, we are excited to announce that one of the many activities we’ll be resuming this Fall is a drop-in “Teatime” – this year with a bigger focus. Teatime will allow groups of 6-8 students to come into the dining room and enjoy a cup of tea with their peers, hosted by Seed to Mouth instructor and ESY cooking program coordinator, Crystal Jones. 8.31.16-CJ-Cooking-SFW_IMG_3833During teatime, members are allowed to enjoy a contemplative space where they use their senses to try and guess their tea flavor of the day and we exercise attentive listening by employing the practice of “one mic”. In the first 10 minutes of the 20 minute tea time session, members get to check in and have a brief reset, while they answer the simple but very important question of “How are you?” Within the last 10 minutes of teatime, members will get to respond to a Q.O.T.D (question of the day) such as, “If you had the opportunity to learn something that is not taught in schools, what would it be?” or “Who is someone in your life who has made your life better? If you had the chance, what would you say to them?” The latter is an exercise in which they are given the option to write a small thank you note to hand deliver to their person of choice.8.31.16-CJ-Cooking-SFW_IMG_3736 8.31.16-CJ-Cooking-SFW_IMG_3828 This school year, we’ll continue to find ways to practice mindfulness, both in and out of the kitchen. We welcome you to join us! Keep well.

Cooking with Crystal at Willie Mays Clubhouse

“Can you see peace and quiet?”
7.31.16-CJ-Cooking-#1This is the question that was posed by a visiting clubhouse member upon entering the Willie Mays Edible Schoolyard Garden for the first time this July. When new members are welcomed into the garden we try to introduce it to them as a place of safety, a place of peace. This summer, opening the garden gates, we discovered that while we as individuals can do well to talk about the garden as a place of peace and almost sanctity, but that the garden is capable of doing this all on its own. In the ESY garden, there is a tone that encourages wonder and exploration, a tone that helps youth to be present there with all of the curiosity that youth allows, but that also helps them to understand that in this space, we protect and respect all living things with the utmost responsibility – a concept that we at the Edible Schoolyard hope is learned and extends into all other areas of our youth members lives. In this space, like the plants and insects – we, as keepers of and visitors of the garden can be transformed.7.31.16-CJ-Cooking-#2
During the month of July with presiding teachers stationed throughout, we allowed free roaming of youth members within the garden; a way for them to navigate the maze of our garden space for a few minutes independently to harvest fruit, vegetables and herbs, as well as to “collect questions” to bring back for our cooking class for the day.

Club members try to guess what fruit or veggie is above their head, using clues given by their peers.
Club members try to guess what fruit or veggie is above their head, using clues given by their peers.

This July all of our cooking classes have started out in the garden and ended in the kitchen, with the hopes of bridging the mental gap between where our food comes from and the effects it has on our bodies. For the duration of the summer and into the new school year, we will continue to find ways of using this format of “seed to mouth” or “garden to table” in our cooking program.7.31.16-CJ-Cooking_IMG_32901
So this summer, as we come to a close, we at the Edible Schoolyard wish you all the calm of being able to see peace and quiet, as you cap another season of teaching and learning, to prepare for a new one.

Hummus & Veggie Pinwheels

1 cup hummus, any flavor
2 large soft tortillas (whole wheat, or spinach)
½ cup thinly sliced red pepper
⅓ cup of sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
½ cup of shredded carrots, radishes, or jicama
1 thinly sliced avocado
4 leaves lettuce or 2 cups of spinach, divided

● Spread a thin layer of hummus on each tortilla.
● Divide the remaining ingredients between tortillas, on one side of each tortilla.
● Starting with the veggie side, roll the tortillas tightly and secure with toothpicks.
● Slice into pinwheels.

*Veggie Pinwheels are a great way to get your balanced spread of daily recommended vitamins & nutrients. Let’s identify the vitamins in your wrap. How could you change this recipe? What would you put in YOUR healthy wrap?
*From the Seed to Mouth Cooking Class*
A program of CommunityGrows

Cooking in June at Willie Mays

Report by Crystal Jones, CommunityGrows Cooking Coordinator:
6.30.16-ESY-SFW-1Summer at the clubhouse has felt much like camp over the past few weeks. Lots of foot traffic around, high energy, and though the days are longer, the assortment of activity has allowed it to feel very fast paced. Amidst the rumble, in the cooking department we’ve been able to start to execute many of the ideas that we were only able to stew over during the school year. One of those being our “Cooking Around the World” series, which in the span of just over a month has allowed youth members to travel to eight different countries – from Japan to Brazil, Ethiopia, (and many places in-between). While in Japan youth members fumbled around with sticky rice and free form sushi rolls, which they rolled all by hand, customizing to their liking with various fruits and vegetables. They also had the option to use hummus on their sushi rolls instead of rice. 6.30.16-ESY-SFW-2
This activity provided the perfect opportunity for youth to refine their knife skills and perfect the “julienne” cut; a popular matchstick style of cutting that proves the perfect size for the stacking and lining up of many different vegetables. Over the month of June, we at the Edible Schoolyard have had the pleasure of inviting other clubhouses to come and join us for garden and cooking class sessions at Willie Mays. This gives clubhouse members a chance to interact with other youth and provide a welcoming space for them, as well as an opportunity to implement leadership skills in assisting with garden tours and helping visitors get accustomed in the kitchen. We look forward to hosting many more and inviting the broader BGCSF network to participate with us in “Cooking Around the World”.
An example of our whiteboard during “Cooking Around the World: Italy”. 6.30.16-ESY-SFW-3The board is normally turned around when youth members enter the kitchen and before revealing our country of the day, students are given a chance to see if they can guess what country we’re in for the day. This is done either through the playing of a tune or by sharing facts indicative to the particular region that we are in.
Next month we will bring our “Cooking Around the World” series to an end with a feast featuring many of the new favorite foods youth members have encountered throughout this food and people educational series.
Challenging you all to explore new & favorite foods yourself this summer! Eat well. 6.30.16-ESY-SFW-4

Cooking Report for May by Crystal Jones

RawBeets-SFW_IMG_2094“Why’s it look so weird? It’s fun to harvest because you don’t know what you’re gonna get!”
“Yeah, it’s kind of like opening a present…”
“Oh my gosh it kind of looks like a hairy creature! Or like an octopus!”
When you’re out in the garden, pulling plants out of the ground, I suppose “legs” are a fair verbiage exchange when referring to the gangly tendrils of root vegetables. If we’ve not given it away yet, these and many more were the exclamations heard in the Edible Schoolyard Garden during our beet harvest last month. The youth at the clubhouse were surprised, delighted, disgusted and everything in between, surveying the wide variety of shapes and odd sizes of the beets growing in our garden. Arrayed in a wide range of colors, from yellow to orange, pink to purple, and white to red and white stripes, on the color spectrum there was something to appease everyone.
More difficult however to appease everyone, was finding a way to hide the robustly earthy flavor of the beet. We spent an entire three weeks with this versatile vegetable. Thinly slicing it and tossing it in herby dressing for salads, cubing it to try it raw, and roasting it with olive oil, salt and pepper… nothing did the trick. That is, until week two, when we began our pickling project. The youth separated the beets into two batches. Red and purple beets in one batch, and the remaining beets in another (this was done so that the second batch of beets would have the chance of retaining their hue, rather than being dyed red).
Beets-twoPhotos-SFW_IMG_2023On the left you can see the brilliantly striped Chioggia Beet (pronounced kee-Oh-gee-uh). Also nicknamed “the candy-cane beet”. Using vinegar, salt, cane sugar, garlic (from the garden) and an assortment of pickling spices proved the perfect combination to win over new beet lovers. It was many of our members first time trying a pickled beet!
Two-Girls-SFWUntil next time, keep exploring exciting new foods. Courtesy of Crystal Jones – Seed to Mouth Program Coordinator at the BGCSF Edible Schoolyard

Seed-to-Mouth Cooking at Willie Mays Clubhouse-March

3.31.16-WMC-Cooking-12During the month of March 2016 the primary focus for the Seed to Mouth cooking class at Willie Mays was discussing vitamins and their carriers. Relating vitamins and minerals to the food from which they come, touring our very own garden to discuss these matters further, then working together to execute recipes that would offer us those vitamins. We ended the month by discussing some of our favorite comfort foods that also provide our bodies the vitamins and sustenance that they need, and how we might still be able to enjoy those comfort foods when making modifications to assure that they are healthier for us. Such as taking an enchilada recipe and cutting the cheese in half or thirds, to reduce fat and sodium. 3.31.16-WMC-Cooking-11Pictured above is a black bean & squash enchilada casserole (a club favorite) made by our elementary schoolers. Rather than put three layers of cheese (as the recipe called for), we put just one on top. In place of using a “dollop of sour cream” on top we opted for a slice of avocado, to offer a healthy fat instead.3.31.16-WMC-Cooking-10
On our second week, we acquired a new gadget, called “The Spiralizer”, which shapes vegetables into different size noodles. 3.31.16-WMC-Cooking-5Our middle and high school groups were the first to try it out. I also taught club members how they could do this at home with a simple veggie peeler. From zucchini, to beets, to carrots and daikon radishes, we spent each class session using the spiralizer for a different recipe. Pictured below is our sun-dried tomato “zucchini pasta” mixed with a kale pesto, which was made by club members the day before from a bountiful harvest of kale, taken from the ESY garden.3.31.16-WMC-Cooking-6One of the goals for Crystal Jones (program manager) this month, was to install a nutrition resource board that clubhouse members can use as a resource board to learn about the Harvest of the Month, what’s in season, and to take home some of their favorite recipes that they’ve learned how to make in this year’s cooking class. 3.31.16-WMC-Cooking-7With the help of some of the teen staff members, we are glad to report it can finally be seen on the walls of the clubhouse. The next time you’re in the neighborhood, visit the halls of our kitchen to pick out a favorite recipe and to see our ever-changing board in person! Until next time, eat well! – Sincerely, your friends at Willie Mays Seed to Mouth Program.3.31.16-WMC-Cooking-9

Yummy Greens at Plaza East

report by Crystal Jones, CommunityGrows Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Coordinator
IMG_1274-SFWIn education, holiday calendars can be an excellent tool for planning how to organize ones curriculum, as well as aiding it. This is especially true I feel, when having the privilege of working with food, in that people already associate many holidays with specific food items. When necessary, it’s fun to challenge those ideas, but most of the time those long standing customs and ideas can be better used to your advantage. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day last week, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to spotlight green foods.

For the day at Plaza East, students got to participate in the making of green smoothies with bountiful kale sourced from our Edible Schoolyard Garden, as well as a wild green pesto which we used to top a small serving of “green nachos”. Vitamin and nutrient highlights for this lesson were (among many), calcium, potassium and vitamin c. Our ingredient of the day?IMG_1278-SFW


That’s right, carrot tops. The MVP in this week’s wild pesto. Carrot tops are not only edible, but full of nutrients and can contain as much as six times the amount of vitamin C as the root itself.

Sometimes it almost feels like a game to me to see just how many fruits and veggies I can get my students to try and enjoy in one sitting. For this lesson, I am glad to say that I lost count and there were thumbs up all around.

Here is the recipe for our “Wild Green Pesto”

2 cups of carrot tops (packed)
¾ cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
1 cup parsley leaves (packed)
⅓ cup of chives
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup of edamame (shelled)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

1. Combine the carrot tops, basil, parsley, chives and edamame in a food processor and pulse a few times.
2. Slowly add the olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add water to thin if desired
3. Serve over your favorite tortilla chips, with more edamame. Top with wild greens (we used arugula, carrot tops) and a little Parmesan. This pesto is also delicious used traditionally. Enjoy!

Lunch with Alice and Will

3.8.16-ESY-Waters-Allen-IMG_1085-SFWOn March 8, 2016, CommunityGrows staff Adrian Almquist, Garden Programs Manager, and Crystal Jones, Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Coordinator had lunch with Alice Waters and Will Allen at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA.
Here is Crystal’s report:
“There are very rare opportunities where one gets to gather among a couple of their heroes, in a room (or in this case a garden) full of people of like-minds; coming together solely for the sake of encouragement to further the work that they are doing, and to soak up wisdom from those represented. Gathering together at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkley this February was just that. Among the organizations represented (included but not limited to), were CommunityGrows, Education Outside, City Slicker Farms, Growing Power, and Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco. We all were taken on a little tour of the ESY Berkeley gardens, given a short history of the project and had the chance to hear about the philosophy of the Edible Schoolyard from none other than Alice Waters (author, chef, activist, restaurateur, and brains behind Chez Panisse) – the woman who started it all. 3.8.15-ESY-Waters-Allen_CJ-SFWAlice then introduced us to our guest of honor that afternoon, Will Allen (farmer, food justice advocate, pioneer of urban agriculture, and founder of Growing Power). After the tour we all gathered around one big table, full of introductions and conversations, where we enjoyed a beautiful lunch, outfitted with some of the bounty of ESY harvests. The major question we address during this gathering, was “How do we not only continue the good work that we are doing, and do more of it?”
The answer?
By forming strong and meaningful partnerships with one another. 
In the spirit of complete community and a philosophy that states I’m not healthy if you’re not healthy and none of us can exist and thrive without the other. 
“I used to think I was in charge in the kitchen, and now I know that is not the case – the farmer is in charge of the kitchen.” – Alice Waters”


ESY Willie Mays was the first after school program in the country to become an affiliate of the founding project and it is actually considered one of their six founding programs (the only other official ESY in Northern California).

Cooking at Willie Mays

by Crystal Jones, CommunityGrows Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Programs Manager
3.1.16-seedtomouthflyerCGDuring the month of February we had several exciting program meetings with youth Willie Mays Club members in the Seed to Mouth cooking class, lead by CommunityGrows Cooking Programs Manager Crystal Jones. IMG_0731We started the month off by covering the rules of knife safety, then applied those rules with an activity that distinguished the difference between dicing, chopping, and julienne slicing. IMG_0031IMG_0034Using newly learned tools, youth club members were able to assist in preparation for a surprise garden pizza oven day held at the clubhouse, which focused heavily on ways to incorporate nutrients into the foods that they love. IMG_0850IMG_0874IMG_0914IMG_0882Every week youth members meet on Tuesday and Friday to prepare a meal or snack that incorporates ingredients from the ESY garden IMG_0530and harvests made by cooking teacher Crystal Jones from a neighboring garden at Project Bayview’s Huli Huli Grill. Going forward, youth members will be using these harvest to host a salad day once a month, IMG_0679where not only will they make a variety of large salads to enjoy on the day of, IMG_0672but youth club members will also be able to take home salad bags and recipes to share with their families.IMG_0691 [more Photos and Flyer by Crystal Jones].

Cooking at Plaza East in February

Plaza East cooking on Thursday nights has been going well, especially with the addition of our new Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Manager Crystal Jones, and our two CommunityGrows volunteers, Jean Wang and Alana Herro. 2.18.16-Plaza East Cooking_1The small (under 20 individuals) crowd is growing with youth and their families joining the mix. One dad actually came by himself to observe. He has two daughters (7 & 11), heard about the cooking class and wanted to check it out before sending his girls over the next week–which he did. 2.18.16-Plaza East Cooking_2In one of the classes, Crystal set up work stations and divided the class into two groups. One group made mango-banana “frozen yogurt” and the other group made whole wheat pita tostadas. Harvested lettuce & green onions were used in our tostada recipe. 2.18.16-Plaza East Cooking_3Both recipes went over well – even with a technical difficulty of having the food processor break and having to make the frozen yogurt by hand! 2.18.16-Plaza East Cooking_4IMG_0511
In other classes at Plaza East this month we made omelets, taco salads, a bountiful grain bowl, and muffins at the end of the class as a reward. See photos here.