Belle Chasse Academy is giving its students the opportunity to learn through the school’s culinary garden and teaching kitchen. The school follows the unique teaching method that incorporates food into traditional math, science, and social studies. Students can learn about botany, nutrition and Native American culture through food such as corn.
The Victory Garden is partially backed by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and is the “nature-based classroom.” Emeril’s Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen, founded by Emeril Lagasse, incorporate gardening and cooking into regular school curriculums. The program enriches the lives of kids through a fun, fresh perspective on food. The program is used throughout elementary and middle schools around the country.
The crops which include this spring collard greens, cucumbers, carrots, tomato vines and peppers are surrounded by a butterfly garden. The butterfly garden serves as the pollinator garden and is filled with flowers. The garden also features several hydroponics systems that are in a greenhouse-like structure. Certain types of food such as bib lettuce is grown in a nutrient-rich water solution instead of soil.
During the year students plant and harvest the crops. While working with the crops students learn math skills, science skills and social studies skills. Math is learned from measuring ingredients in the kitchen classroom, social studies are learned by studying where each crop comes from and science is learned through proper food nutrition. A great hands-on example is Chef Ryan Galle, Belle Chasse Academy’s culinary education coordinator, recently guided his students through a lesson on how food provides them with energy.
“A light bulb goes off. A lot of times they think culinary arts is just pulling out a pan or a pot and putting some food in it, and that’s it. The kids really enjoy it, said Galle, a native New Orleanian. “This is one of the best concepts of hands-on learning because it gets them out of the classroom. They get fresh air. The experience brings a lot of children out of their shells.”