Garden & Culinary Arts Program
LA Plaza’s Edible Teaching Garden & Culinary Arts Program for K-12 students provides a hands-on learning environment centered on environmental education to promote ecologically friendly and healthy lifestyles choices. The primary goal of the Garden & Culinary program is to teach environmental awareness as a means of improving healthy nutritional habits and the overall health and wellbeing of children and youth in Southern California.
The Garden & Culinary Program consists of three components. They include a pre-visit curriculum introducing students to compressed natural gas vehicles and how they impact the environment, a garden workshop in our organic edible garden, and a culinary workshop where students make healthy versions of traditional Mexican recipes. Additionally mini-workshops are conducted for the general public at the five LA Plaza Family Day events conducted throughout the year. Clean transportation, gardening, and wholesome eating are introduced to promote healthy lifestyle choices.
Two full-time licensed instructors provide standards-based curriculum across all program components. When student groups arrive at LA Plaza, their visit begins with the culinary arts workshops in the LA Plaza Patio. The interactive workshop emphasizes importance of nutrition and physical activity to good health and general wellbeing. Students are given a take-home healthy recipe which they carry out in the class and share with their families. Lessons include learning to read and follow steps with necessary math components and modeling proper food handling. Students practice culinary and food-related vocabulary in English and Spanish.
In the garden portion of the workshop students discuss plastics, composting, biodegradables, water usage and air quality. Students are also taught key urban gardening theories and techniques. Fruits, vegetables and herbs native to the Americas are featured as well as the importance and value of indigenous, native foods and their medicinal uses. Students are encouraged to explore the edible garden by using their five senses and consider how they can easily and economically grow an urban garden in their homes, no matter how small the growing space.
Garden & Culinary is also an important component of LA Plaza’s Family Days, a series of culturally-relevant, family-focused festivals highlighting five major Latino holidays. Family Days feature events and performances especially for families and bilingual tours of exhibitions and the PepsiCo Edible Garden. Modified garden and culinary workshops are offered to complement the theme and audience.
The program serves approximately 8,000 students yearly through on-site culinary and garden workshops and 1,000 through mini-workshops conducted at five LA Plaza Family Day events throughout the year.
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