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A Teacher's Perspective

As Ms. Gomez’s first grade students walk into the GSF classroom at Grand View Elementary School, they are immediately greeted by the sweet scent of fresh-cut limes and cilantro. It is the last cooking class of the day, and the students eagerly take their seats as Ms. Kathryn, the garden coordinator, describes the recipe they will make: pico de gallo.  

Outside the windows, students can see the school’s newest garden, a lush courtyard filled with raised beds of leafy greens and herbs. In this class, as in many of our lessons, the students will harvest these ingredients from the school garden.

As Ms. Gomez’s first grade students walk into the GSF classroom at Grand View Elementary School, they are immediately greeted by the sweet scent of fresh-cut limes and cilantro. It is the last cooking class of the day, and the students eagerly take their seats as Ms. Kathryn, the garden coordinator, describes the recipe they will make: pico de gallo.  

 

Outside the windows, students can see the school’s newest garden, a lush courtyard filled with raised beds of leafy greens and herbs. In this class, as in many of our lessons, the students will harvest these ingredients from the school garden.

 

 

While Ms. Kathryn demonstrates how to safely use a knife, the students listen, eager to learn more. Once they start dicing the red onion, it’s easy to see why they enjoy cooking class. “I love trying new things,” one student says after tasting cilantro for the first time. Another slices into a particularly juicy tomato and laughs, “I just like making a mess.”

 

Students participate in every step of the cooking process, which gives them a sense of personal agency. As students taste their creations, they alone decide if their dish needs more seasoning. Through the process of cooking, tasting, and adjusting, they learn to trust their own instincts.

 

Garden and cooking classes also impact teacher’s lives. Ms. Gomez, a native Angelino, has taught at Grand View for four years, and has worked with GSF for three years. During that time, she has learned countless “simple and delicious” recipes that she can recreate with her child at home. Cooking can be intimidating. As Ms. Gomez notes, “I don’t cook or garden much at home, but in class, Ms. Kathryn always makes me feel like I can do anything.”

 

Ms. Gomez especially appreciates that the classes are entirely hands-on. “The lessons are always well-organized, thorough, and consistent,” Ms. Gomez notes.Since many children in LA have limited access to green spaces, the students “love the chance to spend time outdoors.” As one watches Ms. Gomez interact with her students, it’s clear that she loves seeing them expand their horizons. “I’ve really watched my students grow,” she says.  As the lesson ends, and the students clean their stations, Ms. Gomez describes one of her favorite aspects of the program, “Some students who might struggle in a traditional classroom, or who have different learning styles, can really shine in these classes.”

 

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Please watch this fantastic video the wonderful folks at Andrew Jackson Elementary made to raise $5k for the Seed to Table program at their school!