Stomach, Soul, and Society

November 1st, 2017

Over the past couple weeks, New Harmony founding team members Sunny and Annie hosted a group of 36 middle schoolers to pilot a food project. The goal was for students to learn about food from multiple perspectives, including health and culture.

Day 1: Students visited a local Farmer’s Market to learn about how farmers bring their produce to urban areas. They interviewed people in their market booths to find out more about their businesses.

Day 2: The day started with chopping onions and celery and mixing spices to make our own vegetarian and traditional pots of red beans. While the beans simmered, students were able to learn about New Orleans history and culture by touring the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Sunny gave a lesson about the history of red beans and the community action that created the Krewe of Red Beans. At the end of the day, students were able to sample their own creations, and compare it to canned red beans!

Jeremiah tries on the founder’s jacket from the Krewe of Red Beans and Rice. “It’s so heavy!”

Day 3: After a debrief from the previous day, we headed to Grow On Urban Farm where we learned about the environmental impacts of growing both livestock and crops. We met chickens and rabbits who are helping process waste food. We heard from Danielle Morris, a vegan chef and caterer about her plant-based lifestyle choices, and toured a food truck built by Justin, the owner of Sauce Boss who serves his own meaty creations.

Sauce Boss lays out a beautiful lunch spread of vegetarian and meat choices. The kids loved the potato and veggie medley the best of all!

Day 4: We had a busy day between visiting Botanical Garden City Park and Grow Dat Youth Farm. At City Park, the students loved visiting the Japanese Gardens for quiet time, the cacti and succulents and alligator gar fish, and the vertical garden. At Grow Dat, we learned about environmental sustainability and the methods used to grow a wide variety of produce. They sprinkled coffee grinds on growing plants, tasted greens they hand picked, and plotted how to create their own hoop houses.

If it’s too small, put it back in the dirt!

The girls surround their tour guide and try the freshly picked produce.

Day 5: Building off what they had learned thus far, students worked together to plan a garden space, contemplating and planning what it would take to bring a defunct brick filled space back to life with thriving plants. They watched short videos about food’s sometimes oppressive role in society, and had a student-led discussion about the new ideas presented to them.

Boys stand on the pile of sugar cane residual used to make the garden plots.

Day 6: On the last day, we learned about historical cooking methods at Herman Grimma House. Student toured the house and watched a cooking demonstration using methods from the 19th century. We learned about the social norms of the past in order to draw connections to the present. We were also able to see how food impacts culture in different ways. Students made responsible lunch selections at St. Roch Market and tried new foods they’d never had before. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Solitary Gardens in the Lower Ninth Ward learning about the garden plots, and getting their hands dirty working to build more. At Solitary Gardens, we recorded the kids version of “I learned… I wonder, I will…” to see what they got out of the pilot. We discussed what our next steps will be, and how to carry what they learned on into projects of their own design! Stay tuned to the blog for the compiled video from the last day!



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