At the beginning of March we are started our OOG workshops for another successful season with WELO. WELO hosts their after school programing at North Oakland Community Charter School. This season will be a bit trickier because we will not have access to a kitchen as we did in the past. We also have high hopes for the support we can enable to make our upcoming experience for the students even better than we have in the past.
These are some examples of classes we offer.
Want to bring OOG classes to your class? Send us an email! RJ@Doubleog.org
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Our first week was a bit dry and under seasoned as 'Chef' would say. We didn't have a huge cooking day filled with a variety of tasty food....instead we had RJ and a whiteboard talking about where our food comes from.
The answers we got from our students 2nd-6th grade were amazing!! They knew so much already about Organic vs. GMO produce. The conversation so quickly and unexpectedly changed to availability.
With availability taken into consideration for what stores are local, close, convenient for our students families to shop at. Our students also brought up valid points that Organic is a better product, it's just not as affordable when feeding a family of 5 in the Bay Area. We talked about cost of living, where our food budget fits in. Surprisingly, The students made very compelling arguments for GMO produce because it is engineered to grow in harsh conditions, resist incests, and essentially feed more people. We know there are critics of this. Our students even making such a well supported case we had to applaud their ambition for Fresh Food Availability.
When we shop, Are we looking at the labels or reading them?! We discussed how companies can highlight a city closer to us and actually have the produce produced elsewhere.
When thinking about the future and farming and feeding as many people that the world has...it's a tall order. OOG loves to explore and expose their students to farming techniques such as Hydroponics and Aquaponics. The students quickly figured out how we can be more sustainable with our fresh tomatoes in the winter when we use greenhouses and grow rooms with artificial lights powered by renewable solar energies. What are the possibilities for the future you see?
Finally we get to have a cooking class! We had a wonderful donation from Pacific Rim Produce for a case of lemons to make LEMONADE!
Had to start with the not so fun part of washing dishes! It is a great time to think about how we're going to be efficient with our space. Our students understand that we can't just produce and make a mess. Much like farming and the relationship we have with the world. We have to clean as we go and sometimes clean before we start so we'll be more organized.
We want to enable our young students and teach them how to use tools properly. Especially when working in the kitchen and using sharp knives, We don't worry or stress about students getting hurt because we emphasize Kitchen Safety. The students understand they have to pay close attention to their surroundings and focus on what they are cutting. How to hold a knife properly to avoid injury. Setting up our stations properly with a towel under cutting boards to avoid sliding just like they do in restaurant kitchens!.
We don't always have the luxury of having gas burners for beautiful cooking with even heat. Sometimes we have electric or induction stove tops because of limitations of the space. Induction cooking is a good alternative for us should we have a lot of solar available. Again, Getting our students to relate their food back to energy production. It is all connected.
Except when you juice a lemon it still needs a bit more sweetness :) That's what some of our students learned after drinking lemon juice. We learned about how to make a simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water.
Our young OOG students love cooking so much. With limited supplies there's a huge demand for working as a group and in teams because not everyone has their own cutting board, knife, or speciality kitchen gadget.
As we do in every class our students are taught how to step up their stations with wet towels under their cutting boards, trash and compost bins close by to maintain a clean working station. In addition to compost bins, We put out a Vegetable Stock bin to collect all those flavorful carrot skin peels, loose onion skins, and herb stems. We also discussed how our vegetable waste stock stash can be added to over time and stored in the freezer.
Huge challenge about cooking on all electric is power availability. Should we not have appropriate power source for the loads our induction burners, panini presses, and stick blenders require then it becomes a bit tricky. We kept tripping our power strip and had to be more aware of what tools we were using at the same time. This could be avoided should we have a big beautiful food truck!!! That's another project tho.
Always always always we encourage our young OOG's culinary skills by having them use real knives. Our students are empowered when they use sharp paring knives knowing they have to be safe and extremely aware of the task at hand to preform it safely. We want them to build their confidence up and this is our best method of practice.
From our knife skills to our stovetop cooking there is a lot of vocabulary we work on. Getting our recipe prepped requires us to peel, dice, and chop. When cooking we learned about searing, sautéing, stirring, deglazing, and blending. Takes a lot to make a OOG SOUP! Since we use induction burners sometimes the volume of food we are cooking has to be scaled back from the induction burners to handle. Sometimes our pans don't heat as quickly as one may be use to on a gas stovetop.
Our students did such an amazing job handling of day of worksheets filled with technical terms, Spanish, observations, and data recording. It was a major STEM day.
We were absolutely surprised by how much the students loved eating baby carrots. We took a far amount of "Carrot Breaks" and practiced sharing and counting out our portion size. They devoured a 5# bag of carrots in less than a few hours.
Kids/Students love love love sugary drinks and we know there has to be some more helpful alternatives they can have. We tried a mineral water with 0g of sugar :) and it went decent with them. Our students were more partial for the Orange flavored Perrier's and it gave us a good idea to get a soda stream.
Our Double "O" Gs love working in the garden as contractors, data recorders, carpenters, and water suppliers. They learn how each role supports one another for getting our lesson accomplished. Building teamwork from each title having to make a contribution from their trade.
Writing and recording names, dates, numbers, codes, shapes, temperatures, and what every else we want to monitor teaches our OOGs how to make charts, hypothesis, and analyze their findings. One project that we started was measuring the growing beds North Oakland Community Charter has for our surface area. Once we knew our growing area we could project future yields measured in pounds.
When we are eating not all the time are we breaking our meal or food to digest the real costs it takes to produce. This was a challenging day that our WELO NOCCS students rocked out! We reviewed the importance of exact measurement and how to determine the cost for our portion size
For us to develop food costs our OOGs had to understand how to jump between all of the different units of measurements for weight and volume. We took record of the amounts of yogurt, grape nuts, strawberries, and blackberries that went into our delicious parfaits. Sometimes we were measuring with tablespoons or measuring cups and other times we talked about how to use a scale to measure in grams, ounces, and pounds. We had to learn when it was appropriate to use a volume or weight measurement. How we could count the number of strawberries in a container and find the average weight and cost of a single berry.
When we record our measurements its the first steps for writing a recipe. Our OOGs learned the importance of recipes from costing to quality and consistency standards. Once we had a recipe we would be able to figure out how much it costs to produce. However, we weren't able to produce those statistics until we knew the cost of our food broken down into ounces or tablespoons.
Farms don't only grow produce. They have to have a dynamic system of different crops that work to support each other. Our OOGs planted Asylum flowers for warding off some incests we don't want and to attract all the beautiful butterflies, bees, and bird pollinators. We practiced digging appropriate size holes to transplant our flowers.
We take time to review with all of our OOGs when its best to use a sowing style of planting vs. creating starts to transplant. It depends how the plant grows! Transplanting also takes time and planning because you should know before you plant what condition your soil is in. Our OOG programs also love the opportunity to bring fresh less processed snacks. Let's face it, all of our produce is handled and processed to some extent, The question is do you know how much?
Take for instance a squash or tomato plants which we can plan ahead and prepare starts for because each plant produces a bounty of fruit or vegetables. When we are depending only on one plant to grow in a certain area because it requires that much space, having a start ensures that our plant will be successful. When each sound only produces the quantity of a single vegetable like a carrot or radish. When we sow a lot of seeds we wait for their sprouts to grow out and then we thin them down to our need.
Not many people know of this wonderland in the East Oakland Hillside above 98th and Stearns. Bishop O'Dowd for many years now has expanded their outdoor classroom the "Living Lab" into a newly built facility for two classrooms alongside their extremely dynamic landscape of trees, native plants, planter boxes, and chickens. They we're very kind to us and donated a flat of many different tomato varieties from larger heirloom to smaller novelty cherry size.
Our students love eating cuties and carrots! It's so great to see young minds choosing to eat helpful and our goal is positive reinforcement for the smart choice they're making! Our particular class was experiencing an unusually hot day and we wanted to award our hard workers with popsicles. We talked about how they could make their own at home and have for a treat instead of Ice Cream.
Before we start planting there has to be thought out plans for where we will be putting our starts or seeds. To help ensure our plants health and success we like to add in some soil, compost, or manure and mix everything up. Gives more life and food to your soil for these plants to thrive. We also learn during this process any weeds or pesky bugs we may have that need to be feed to our chickens!!!
When we are brainstorming what to cook for dinner one concept to focus on is "How can we use any leftovers for another meal?". Making food like rice, beans, pasta are examples of staple cooking that can easily snuck into new meals. For not only cooking every business will examine their waste or the byproduct from their staple corp or produced product and imagine how they can make money off the waste. Vegetable oil for cars from used fryers would be a great example of taking waste and turning it to another product.
Restaurants, Grocery Stores, and food manufactures all have to incorporate their cost of doing business (Rent, Labor, Material Goods, Packaging, Shipping, Etc) when figuring out their cost and retail price $. Often times why we have subsidies to help ensure consistency for the farmer and the manufacture of these raw products.
Great way to practice our knife skills is first having good habits with our station. We talked about the importance of keeping a wet towel under your cutting board to reduce the chance of a wandering cutting surface. OOGs also are expected to maintain a clean work area with containers for organizing our garbage, compost, veg stock, and final product. Clear surfaces without unnecessary product prevents us from making super strange and unsafe cutting techniques.
Great way to practice your cutting skills for holding a knife comfortably and safe while challenging yourself for consistency specific size cuts comes from making stock. There are really only 3 vegetables you need! Celery, Onion, Carrots, and water of course. You can always add in onion peels that aren't chopped and carrot peels from another meal at another time. Some OOGs even set all these delicious desired vegetable scrapes in a specific stock bag kept in the freezer. Another way for us to save money from the waste of another meal.
You'll never know how much you love salad until you make homemade dressing. Our students devour salad when its freshly dressed with Balsamic Vinaigrette they all contribute in making. We stick to a basic 3-1 Oil to Vinegar and also use a blend Canola/EVOO, Mustard, Salt, and Pepper.
Following up again on how to transform waste into another meal would be chicken stock. When we made chicken tacos we shredded all the meat off of the bones. Then instead of throwing all those juicy, roasted, sweat, savory bones into the trash. We tossed them into our stock pot to boil with all the carrots, onions, and celery we practiced our cutting on.
Going off site and onto an adventure of a whole new setting is such an exhilarating way to learn. All your sense are are extra curious mode because you've never walked the land, heard the swarms of bees or clucking of chickens.
In 2016 City Slicker Farms opened their long awaited Farm Park in West Oakland on Peralta. Instantly it was a major #DoubleOGApproved style project that took them a lot of hard earned hours and input from the community. It has taken off and made such a huge impact in our Oakland community for access of a large farm in a city setting.
The students of our spring 2019 class at North Oakland Community Charter have chickens already except the space at City Slicker Farms is so much more roomy! It was a treat to visit their sight and give young OOGs an opportunity to pick up chickens and peacefully hold them.
Bees are such a hot topic in environmental community because of their dealing population. City Slicker Farms has a beautiful Honey Bee Hive set up within their chicken range that our brave OOG students got to stand by and allow the bees to dance all around us.
The Farm Park provides such a wonderful space for City Slicker Farms to have large areas for cultivating food for their workshops, to give out to volunteers, or available at their farm stand. Also makes for a great model to explain the amount of space, time, labor, water, protection, and patience to grow our food within minutes of our homes.