On July 20, 23 teens and two staff from AIM Summer Academy spent the day with staff and volunteers at No More Empty Pots (NMEP) gardening and cooking. After an overview of NMEP, one group left for work in Florence Community Garden to learn about and practice growing and harvesting food. At the NMEP office, the second group began the process of preparing lunch with food harvested earlier from the garden and donated by local farmers.
After an hour, the groups switched places. The cooking group went to the garden and the gardening group finished lunch preparation. The teens harvested five 10 gallon bags of produce and prepared a fantastic lunch from prepping veggies to cooking to serving: zucchini and kale stir-fry with quinoa and brown rice, zucchini and kale soup, mixed raspberries and strawberries with lemon pound cake, garlic bread, mixed salad with kale, cucumber, radishes and beets, a homemade balsamic salad dressing, and zucchini kale stir fry with sausage.
After lunch, the teens worked in teams to sharpen their entrepreneurial chops by creating marketing pieces for a product or service opportunity using local and value-added products. See photo below. According to post survey responses, over 90% enjoyed preparing their lunch with local vegetables. One participant sent her mom a photo of the soup she was eating. Both she and her mom were surprised because she rarely eats vegetables, especially as a soup.
We can hardly wait for dedicated kitchen space to engage even more teens.