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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Garden to Table with a Chef–at School

Five garden fresh watermelons divided by 71 schoolchildren equals watermelon smoothie samples for the whole class.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Alexis Wiesenberg, Rhianna Russell and Ella Pierce check out the watermelon from their school garden.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    With freshly washed hands, Ella Pierce and Eli Bryant dig into the watermelon, to start prepping for the smoothies.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Nienya Williams, Erika Yochum's daughter, helps the kids process the watermelon.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    It's a messy job, but somebody's gotta do it!

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Everyone works together to get the watermelon ready for the smoothie. Pictured from left to right (around the table) Alexis Wisenberg, Rhianna Russell, Simone Hall, Abigail Mathai, Jasper Somers-Glenn and Alora Coleman.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Out in the garden, the kids search for mint, basil and ground cherries for their smoothie.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    They also have fall greens, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, herbs, green beans and potatoes growing in the garden.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    They planted these cucumbers the first day of school, and they are almost ready.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Back in the classroom, Erika Yochum works with Rhianna Russell, Alora Coleman and Simone Hall on getting the ingredients into the blender.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Rhianna Russell takes a look inside the blender, as Yochum pushes the ice down.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Pheonix Gordon transfers the watermelon pieces and ground cherries to the blender.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Yochum shows Abigail Mathai how much watermelon to put into the blender.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Simone Hall sets up rows of cups for smoothie samples. They need enough for the whole class, over 70 samples!

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Everyone wants a turn and every part of the process. Pictured here: Alora Coleman, Erika Yochum, Simone Hall, Ella Pierce, Jasper Somers-Glenn, Ella Sturdevant

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Nora LoPilato and Ruby Williams toast with their smoothie, taking a break from their "design a house" project.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Cosmo Pearson-Young and Ridley Crouch enjoy some refreshment while taking apart an old cd player during the classroom's "Invitations" period.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    Laila Burgess has a smoothie sample waiting for her when she takes a break from her "great artists" project.

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    Photo: Kayte Young/WFIU

    The students in the multi-age, K-6 classroom have made thank you notes for Chef Erika Yochum, of Feast, and her daughter Nienya Williams. This one was drawn by Avery Beck.

This week on our show, we’ll go from garden to table with Chef Erika Yochum of Feast and a group of kids at Templeton Elementary School.

Alice Waters‘ visit just reestablished the feeling that I already had, that schools should have gardens for their kids to be a part of, to see the progression of growing things and being a part of it. And then the restaurant being across the street– it just seemed like a no-brainer.”–Erika Yochum

Erika Yochum is the chef and owner of Feast Restaurant and Catering, and Feast Market and Cellar. Garden-fresh and local food is one of the themes of her work as a chef. A recent visit to Bloomington by Alice Waters, renowned chef and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project, lit a fire in Yochum, to get involved in school gardening in her community. Lucky for her, the elementary school right across the street from her restaurant had an active school garden.

Since the summer she has been helping out in the garden, keeping the weeds under control and preparing beds for the students to plant. Now that school is in session, she visits a large, multi-age classroom weekly for Cooking With Erika. She takes a group of kids out to the garden to harvest what’s available, and they bring it back to the classroom for a simple preparation that they can share with the whole class (71 students).

One week they made salsa with the tomatoes, peppers and herbs they harvested, plus the onions and garlic that had been curing in the shed since July (also grown in the garden). The next time, they made pesto with the basil and garlic, and served it on toast.

This classroom has three teachers, Rise Reinier, Kevin Gallagher and Megan Somers-Glenn. The class occupies three connected rooms and includes students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. Each week they have an hour long session called Invitations. The children sign up ahead of time for the activity they’d like to try (you don’t always get your first choice). The activities include topics such a Paint a Poem, Native Plants, Take it Apart, Origami, Rube Goldberg Contraptions, Knitting, Duct Tape Creations, Write a Song, Great Artists, Design a House and Gardening. Some sessions are led by and invited guest or teacher, some are student led.

Cooking with Erika allows for another level of engagement with the garden, and builds understanding about where food comes from and how it makes its way from the field to the table.

Also on the show this week:

Amy Mayer from Harvest Public Media has a story about what the farm bill means for dairy farmers, and  okra curry is on the menu with FARMbloomington‘s Chef Daniel Orr.


Stories On This Episode

Dairy Safety Net Isn’t Working, USDA and Farmers Agree


When you head to the supermarket you want to see milk at a reasonable price. But, some dairy farmers say times are tough and safety nets aren't working.

A Crisis Both New And Old: Water In Puerto Rico

water in Puerto Rico

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria left at least 55 percent of the island’s residents at risk for waterborne illnesses like typhoid and cholera.

Okra And Chickpea Curry

okra curry

Coconut milk instead of cream makes this curry vegan.

Company Spins Beach Plastic Into Dish Soap Bottles

Plastic litters a beach on Laysan Island in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Proctor and Gamble Co. has announced plans to use plastic that washes up on beaches to make soap bottles to raise awareness of marine pollution.

Kayte Young

Kayte Young discovered her passion for growing, cooking, foraging and preserving fresh food when she moved to Bloomington in 2007. With a background in construction, architecture, nutrition education and writing, she brings curiosity and a love of storytelling to a show about all things edible. Kayte raises bees, a small family and a yard full of food in Bloomington’s McDoel Gardens neighborhood.

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