NOPA Helps Us In So Many Ways – And Save The Date!

The people of NOPA Restaurant do heartfelt work. As Laurence says, their employees are “nice, smart and hard working.” They truly are.

On Valentine’s Day NOPA closes their restaurants so the employees can take the time to volunteer throughout the City.  For us that meant a group came and cleaned up our dormant garden (dormant thanks to a band of hungry 4 legged neighbors that we hope have moved on) to get ready to plant again.
And now we prepare for another generous involvement with NOPA. Our Long Table Dinner will morph into a  Lunch at NOPA on Thursday March 15th, 1-2:30pm, in the middle of our March Fundraising Campaign. Tickets and more information will be available soon. We are totally excited!

Events Ahead!

Two Events are suddenly upon us!

Garden Workday Saturday, February 25th 10am-2pm

Although we considered postponing our garden time this Saturday, it is calling to us anyway. Please come by anytime between 10am and 2pm for more dirt moving, raised bed building and weeding- or to just say hello.  We’ll have some extra gloves and hats, along with tea and nibbles.






Then we will be turning right around and serving a full house at our next Long Table Dinner, Thursday March 2nd, 6-8pm.  Tickets have sold out for now, please contact us if you would like to be on our wait list – we do get cancellations.  We will let you know the morning of the event if space becomes available. Thank you to those for spreading the word to fill our table.  More soon, we’ll be in the weeds until then –  in more ways than one!

The Great Dig In


This is what shoveling 10 yards of beautiful, rich soil looks like.  What you can’t see is that this levee is almost as deep as it is wide- 10 yards is a lot! And it was a perfect day to do this. Warm sun in the morning turning into cooling fog at times as we started to shovel in earnest.  Then, just as we were starting to worry the pile was regenerating itself, the calvary came in and got it all down into the garden. We were even able to fill our three new raised beds.img_20161105_150744-2

Of course, now all we can think about is planting, even as we head into winter.  The garden has already become a great place to be again.

We are catching up and hope to share a few pictures from the Long Table Dinner, which was another success! We are so proud of our students and thankful to all of our friends who came out or helped.  In the meantime you might find us out here digging away- Happy Quarter 2!

This Time of Year

Rain Dance Garden Work Party!

2015-03-11 08.28.11Help keep the rain dance going with us this Monday April 6th at John O’Connell High School 4-7pm!  CUESA has worked with the garden at this school for years and here is our chance to bring it back after a year of dormancy.  Heat of the Kitchen classes will then continue with the garden until our move back to Ida B. Wells.  A great opportunity for us to continue a hands-on connection with work and food!

Spring Break

2015-03-13 12.13.39It may not look that exciting, but our “safety net” map has been a through-line  for me this past quarter.  We are on break this week, which I hoped would give me a break too, to get a sense of whether the students are getting anything out of our “no cooking” culinary careers classwork.  On this map, students circled areas of interest that they want to learn about in the 8 weeks we are together.

Even though you can’t see all the detail that was circled in this picture, I like this map because it proves a point to me. Yes, young people want jobs, they want to be more secure and be able to make choices after high school, not be dealt with, which is how school still feels at this age for many of our students.

We’ve got some exciting projects that we hope will help students feel more prepared, confident, connected (keyword tip offs here: Quince!  Garden!).  The timing might be right, then again, it might not.  It doesn’t change our appreciation for those of you who are jumping in and getting involved.  Thank you.

Students notice even when they choose to stay on the sidelines and many of them move one step closer to getting involved as a result of your involvement. The message that comes with every volunteer or industry person who brings an opportunity to our school is that very important  “I care even though I don’t know you,” message. This message helps to offset the litany of other messages that inner city youth receive which default, intentionally or unintentionally, to lack of care or inability to care.

The more times our students witness that unconditional “I care” message, the more they can prepare to step outside what is defaulted to them.  This picture is one more sign to me that they want to do that. And, as we all send out our caring messages, what keeps me going is looking forward to when young people begin to realize how amazing they really are and get in touch with their own limitless potential.  This kind of discovery is awesome, isn’t it?  It is why our class is designed for students to be able to cook and eat together at that professional level. it is a catalyst right into opening those deeper discovery doors that too often are shut for our inner city youth.  Yes, I can’t wait to start cooking with them in a real kitchen again.


little surprises

dec 14 romanesco 72dpi

… and we thought they were collard greens! Meet romanesco, one of the more wonderful displays of the Fibonacci sequence out there.  And there are now over a dozen of these happy little fractals in our school garden, quietly growing in the rain.

While we are actively packing to move out of our building in a week and a half (more on that later), signs like this sure are welcome!

Long Table Dinner 6!

It is time to tell you that in roughly two weeks, our main hallway will be filled with that happy burble one hears when people come together around food.  It is my favorite sound.1006 garden 10 inch 72 dpi

Please join us for Long Table Dinner 6! Thursday October 23rd, 6-8:30pm.  We’re proud to feature not just the fruits of our labor in the kitchen, but in the garden as well.  And our tasty harvest just happens to align with National Food Day. Think of it as an extra good sign that it will be a delicious evening!

Link to tickets –>