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In 2009, in conjunction with Whole Foods, the Wissahickon School District in Ambler, PA created the Wissahickon Gardens Program and planted gardens at every school in the district. At Wissahickon High School, the Horticulture Club planted the garden and families work in the garden and share in some of the harvest, which has has proven to be a great way to share healthy food with the community.
Since the high school was growing so many wonderful things, the district decided that the students should share not only the vegetables, but information about how to cook them. So once again in collaboration with Whole Foods and the high school's television production class (an elective for kids who want to learn about television production), the Family and Consumer Science department and with the support of the school district, Wissahickon Cooks was launched. A bi-weekly 30 minute television show, Wissahickon Cooks focuses on the food grown in the gardens and healthy cooking methods, as well as fabulous recipes!
With a team including Paula Bywaters, the school's Family and Consumer Science teacher, a nutrition specialist from Whole Foods and two student chefs in front of the camera, not to mention a full team of students and teachers behind the camera, the students share what they've learned about healthy food choices with their peers and families. The production team also includes students from the graphic arts class to design the program's logos, as well as students from the school's ceramics class to make props for the set.
"The students in my cooking classes get to use the veggies in some really fun recipes," Paula notes. "They have the opportunity to taste the garden first-hand. For example, one of our veggies was a giant sweet potato that yielded 10 cups of shreds for our sweet potato pancakes – enough for one entire class!"
The school is hoping that their garden will continue to be bigger and better, and has the ultimate goal of growing enough veggies for the cafeteria to use them for school lunches. The garden is an especially valuable resource for many families in the Wissahickon district, since the local grocery store has recently shut down.
"Thank you for the opportunity to share this fantastic program, so that others can see what is possible!" says Ms. Bywaters. "Healthy eating is possible for everyone!"
To learn more about this program and watch an episode of Wissahickon Cooks, visit their website.