CPS Chefs Visit Rooftop Farm, Hope To Inspire Healthy Eating
SCHOOLS | August 24, 2018
CPS Chefs Visit Rooftop Farm, Hope To Inspire Healthy Eating

A group of culinary instructors from across the district gathered on an organic rooftop to learn about connecting schools to organic farming last Wednesday.

More than 20 met at Uncommon Ground, an organic restaurant, at 10 a.m. to tour the rooftop farm. Everything from lettuce to carrots could be seen growing. The chefs were left to explore the space and brainstorm ways to create an organic farm at their school.

Patrick Murray, a culinary instructor at Vaughn Occupational High School, said he plans to take the lessons he learned back to his school’s garden.

“Touring the organic farm garden gave us culinary arts educators an opportunity to see an operation that is very successful,” said Murray. “We just started a garden at Vaughn, and I plan to implement some of the ideas that they introduced here today.”

David Kulasik, the chef instructor at Prosser Academy, said gardening is “essential to any community.”

He’s hoping to one day take freshly grown ingredients from the school’s garden and use them in meals.

“I think it’s imperative for the students, as well as the community, to get involved,” said Kulasik. “My dream for our garden [at Prosser] is to take what we grow, have it processed by the students, and then serve to the student body. The garden here showed me it’s doable on a smaller scale.”

David Blackmon, the Career and Technical Education Program Coordinator, said exposing the instructors to the garden was a great first step to bringing healthy eating back to schools.

“The problem is that students aren’t eating vegetables because they aren’t exposed to them,” said Blackmon. “If we make [gardening] cool and engaging, we can make some changes within our schools and lunchrooms.”

Through a partnership with the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, or CCAP, Blackmon said culinary instructors are given the opportunity to partner with restaurants throughout the city to learn healthy and tasty dishes to bring back to their schools,

Uncommon Ground’s organic rooftop farm was one of the few to expose culinary instructors to the benefits of forming a garden at their school; something Blackmon called “bigger and better” than before.

Blackmon said, after touring the garden, he’s excited to see what “great” things the instructors create during the school year, including, possibly, a garden of their own.

“I am very proud of what our program has accomplished,” said Blackmon. “Having the teachers coming in to see the garden and how they can work together is going to help our program grow even more.”