School garden at HISD campus provides students with culinary love

HOUSTON – The cultivated classroom at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center is not some cute name for the school's garden.

Getting down in the dirt is part of the school curriculum.

“Someday I'll have my own garden. It's going to be big. I'm going to have lots of good food,” says Zaevia Hamilton.

Tomorrow Zaevia graduates eighth grade and leaves Gregory-Lincoln Education Center behind, but the skills she's learned in its garden will stay with her.

“I'm going to Westside and they have culinary programs over there and I think I'll be doing culinary in the long run,” says Zaevia.

“When we come out to the garden and we have our class, we gather right in front of this board and we give the kids options of which beds they want to work in," says Kellie Karavias.

As the culinary arts educator, Kellie started the program at Gregory-Lincoln and at three other schools before it.

“I felt like the Johnny Appleseed of school gardening and edible education in HISD,” says Kellie. “There's been a huge disconnect for years between actually preparing food and actually knowing where it's coming from.”

About three years ago the program expanded down the street to The Pass and Provisions and co-chef-owner Seth Siegel-Gardner.

“It was just like how can we get involved,” says Siegel-Gardner.

After meeting with Kellie, he and his team developed a sort of curriculum of their own for the kids to take regular field trips to the restaurant.

“She'll send us a message saying like 'we're going to be pulling beets and onions' or whatever it is and we're like, alright great we're going to do, we'll learn how to make a soup,” says Siegel-Gardner.

“We've made our own pizzas, we've made our own cheeses, we've made our own burgers and hot dogs. We made spaghetti from scratch,” says Zaevia.

“It's just kind of being good Houstonians and a good part of the community,” says Siegel-Gardner.

Kellie would love to see people across Houston sporting their own gardens and she's ready to help. Every Thursday in June and July the school's garden will be open to the public to come in, volunteer, and learn from Kellie and the folks at Urban Harvest. For more info on that and other summertime opportunities at Gregory-Lincoln check out this website.

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