Milwaukee Parkside students plant, grow, cook, and eat garden crops

January 3, 2019

Students at Milwaukee Parkside have put their gardens to bed for the winter after raising their own produce and exploring multicultural recipes. Grades 1 through 8 participated in a full year of planning, planting, nurturing, harvesting, and cooking that led to sampling of delicious ethnic dishes from vegetables grown in the school’s Multicultural Gardens.

Beginning in the spring of 2018, 3rd graders designed a Food Tradition survey to learn what types of foods were enjoyed by Parkside families. The survey revealed that families identify with 25 different countries and cook a wide range of ethnic cuisines.

The recipes collected from families served as inspiration for the next step of the program– selecting vegetables to plant. Under the guidance of Parkside’s Agriculture Program Coordinator, students planted seeds in the school’s two hoop houses. Parkside also has an aquaponics lab, raised bed gardens, butterfly learning labs, and perennial beds that are integrated into the school’s curriculum.

Crops were tended throughout spring and summer. In class, students had opportunities to work with local chefs and learn how to transform harvested food into delicious dishes. Family members were also invited into school to cook with their students and a chef to learn about seasonal, nutrient- dense recipes.

In November, Parkside partnered with Bay View High School to host a Fall Harvest Meal. Parkside 6th and 7th graders took part in planning, prepping, cooking, designing, plating, and serving a multicultural meal. Foods were harvested from the Parkside Multicultural Gardens and included swiss chard, collard greens, and butternut squash. About 40 guests were served.

Students participated in many age-appropriate activities throughout the year related to multicultural cuisine. Grades 1 and 2 transformed tomatoes from the Multicultural Gardens into pasta sauce. They integrated tomatoes across the curriculum by learning the life cycle of the tomato plant (science), investigating food traditions (social studies), studying the recipe (math), and tasting the sauce as inspiration for adjectives and to create labels for the sauce (English language arts). For the first time, students got to eat their school work!

Parkside 6th grade students developed food truck menus and proposals centered on produce grown in the Multicultural Gardens. Chefs Joe Sutyak, Dan Nowak, and Jennifer Bartolotta attended the student presentations and made the event even more special.

Grades 5 through 8 enjoyed a Korean cooking day and learned about dishes ranging from rice bowls to kimbap. In grades 6 and 7, students learned about Confucianism and wrote a letter to Chef Saehee Chang, sharing their most treasured food tradition memories.

Fifth graders studied fractions by making kimbap, a Korean-style sushi. Students took an existing recipe that included fractions and expanded it for a large party. They also calculated how many rolls of kimbap were created and how best to divide them to ensure everyone got a taste. These functional fraction skills were later put to use making holiday pies with local pastry chefs.

The Parkside Agriculture Program gets children excited about school and provides hands-on experiences that increase learning and comprehension. Students also gain valuable life skills that will benefit their nutrition habits for years to come.

Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts is located at 2969 S. Howell Ave. For questions about enrollment or to tour the school, visit the school website or call (414) 294- 1600.