In 24 hours graduation here at WL will have passed and the university will soon start gearing up for the class of 2014, just like every other college and university. Just 15 years ago the new class of students were toddlers and rather than independent adults, they were almost entirely depent on their parents to guide them. Now, why does that relate to CKP and the Campus Kitchens Garden? Let me tell you…
Proper nutrition, especially when kids are toddlers, is important to develop cognitive skills. The class of 2014 is already “there”, but the class of 2029 is not. With the right tools, nutrition education and access to healthy foods, more kids will go from toddler to graduate – it really could be that simple. Many, many factors affect who graduates and who does not, but studies show that “all things equal”, kids who eat well are more likely to graduate from college.
At CKP we do our best to help facilitate tools, nutrition lessons and access to healthy foods. The Campus Kitchens Garden is involved in them all.
The garden, a lonesome oasis in the woods of WL’s back campus, is only about 1/3 of an acre. The quarter mile rough dirt road that leads to the garden, from the tennis center, keeps all but the most enthusiastic dog walkers and runners from ever finding it – unfortunately.
Just last week the first produce of the season made its way to our clients. In fact, come tonight, we will have served more than a 100 meals with our own vegetables – in broccoli coleslaw and delicious, freshly steamed, broccoli flowers. In just a few months, hopefully we will have harvested around 500 pounds of produce or more, and served that produce in more than 2500 meals!
The garden is much more than just produce though. For example, the easiest place to start teaching nutrition is to introduce people to vegetables outside the supermarket; last year, one visitor to the garden was astonished to find out that tomatoes and peppers come from plants. For most kids, I think, vegetables are something on the supermarket shelf, just like fast food, cookies and soft drinks are.
With the garden, we try using seedlings to turn out graduates. The garden is still early in its life, but it expands every year and touches more people by the day – canned and frozen vegetables from the garden will continue to be part of meals far beyond the summer season.