Harvesting imagination at Jefferson Elementary

Dr. Ben Churchill, Superintendent,
Carlsbad Unified School District

Imagine: Students rolling up their sleeves and chopping celery, sauteing zucchini, seasoning with herbs, and serving up a delicious and nutritious meal fresh from the garden. Guest experts demonstrating their favorite healthy recipes. Dieticians, scientists, and nutritionists teaching students about the science of food, from growing, to preparing, to enjoying, and to sustainably disposing of leftovers. The imagination of facilities designers, grant writers, community partners, and educators is now coming to fruition in the Culinary Lab at
Jefferson Elementary School.

Measure HH, Carlsbad Unified’s voter-approved school facilities bond, has funded the construction of this innovative Culinary Lab. After years of planning and building, the final touches have been completed. New appliances have been installed in the cooking stations, the furniture is arriving, and students will soon be working and learning in their new Culinary Lab.

Jefferson Elementary is entering its fourth year as a California Green Ribbon School, growing vegetables and fruit–and even raising chickens– in a sustainable environment, in a facility that strives to reduce its environmental impact, whether by saving water, power or by recycling efficiently. The school can now take its next step, bringing the harvests from its gardens into the kitchen, where students may study the science of cooking and nutrition. This new state-of-the-art facility will now encourage tomorrow’s cooks, nutritionists, and chefs. 

Tied to State curriculum standards, the Culinary Lab will foster the development of a variety of skills in students. For example, through the City of Carlsbad’s STEAM Project, the lab will introduce culinary skills, and information about culinary careers, in the elementary school. In partnership with the Sage Garden Project, which believes that “every child deserves the opportunity to plant a seed, watch it grow, taste it fresh, prepare it as part of a delicious meal and compost the scraps to continue the cycle of life,” the Lab will support hands-on lessons in science, math, and healthy living.

Other partnerships also have developed to further important goals: preparing and serving healthy and delicious foods straight from the garden; health and wellness for students and staff; and environmental sustainability. It truly took a village of supportive community businesses and foundations, and their expertise and financial assistance, to realize the opening of the school’s Culinary Lab and its Green Ribbon undertakings.  Lowe’s, Kellogg, San Diego Master Gardeners, the Urban Youth Collaborative, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP), EmPowered, San Diego County Air Pollution Control District, (San Diego County APCD), San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Green Schoolyards America, Healthy Kids, Happy Planet, Whole Foods Kids Foundation, the Go Green Initiative, San Diego Ag in the Classroom, and Fork Farms are all supporting the school’s efforts to Go Green and celebrate healthy cooking.

We truly appreciate the efforts of the staff of Jefferson Elementary, our facilities staff, and our numerous community partners, who have worked tirelessly for the good of our students. Carlsbad Unified looks forward to the Culinary Lab ribbon-cutting in late March.