Author: Claire Groebner, Interim Director, Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is a garden-based nutrition education center located in National City. This summer, we embarked on an exciting Teaching Kitchen Remodel Project to create the most effective and efficient teaching space within our beautiful Victorian home. Set to open in the beginning of October, this new space will increase the capacity of our kitchen, have improved flow, and ultimately ensure that we are providing the best educational experience possible.
Our kitchen is critical to our nutrition and healthy cooking programs, so we had to get creative in order to ensure we did not have a gap in programming. So far this summer, children have made a rainbow garden salad while participating in our Children’s Garden and Nutrition Education field trip program, adults have prepared grilled stone fruit salad and pesto flatbread during our Summer Grilling class, and families have prepared a taco bar feast at a family cooking class.
Due to the successful creation and implementation of our outdoor adventure kitchen, we have experienced no programming gaps since the demolition of our indoor teaching kitchen in the beginning of June. The outdoor kitchen has not only ensured that we continue to provide essential education during the summer, but has also resulted in increased overall capacity for our organization. We have served 115 children and 50 adults with this kitchen in just a month and a half.
Over the next few months, we will continue to host field trips where students will use this outdoor kitchen, children will participate in our Chefcitos summer cooking classes, adults will join us for a Salsa & Salsa cooking class, and we will educate the 13th cohort of our Cooking for Salud adult nutrition education program. Graduates of this program - Kitchenistas - will use the kitchen to teaching Kitchenista-to-Kitchenista healthy cooking classes, and families will participate in family field trips and will learn how to cook healthy meals together. Moving forward, we envision that the addition of this outdoor space has the potential to double our program offerings each year, meaning we will have an even greater capacity to build a healthy community.