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by Youth Programs Intern Heather Teige

Slow Food USA will profile a number of our 2008 Slow Food in Schools Micro-Grant recipients in the coming months. Look out for these profiles, along with best practice suggestions for Slow Food in Schools projects from our 2008 Micro-Grant recipients, which will be housed on the Youth Programs page this fall.

Desert Marigold School in Phoenix, Arizona is a charter school that firmly believes in using an interdisciplinary approach to educate its students. And so, it’s no surprise that five years ago they partnered with Slow Food Phoenix to establish a 5,000 square foot garden to formalize their commitment to hands-on learning. The teaching garden program focuses mostly on farming and food preparation, but hopes to expand its curriculum and give students a broader and more complete view of the seed-to-plate process by building a fully sustainable outdoor kitchen.

What started off as an in-school garden will come full circle after the kitchen is built. The outdoor kitchen will be fully functional and is expected to prepare lunch for all of Desert Marigold School’s 200 students. The program looks forward to having their student’s witness the fruits of their labor by letting them eat and delight in what they’ve grown. Through the collaborative efforts of the school, local farmers, and chefs, the students will be given a tangible education about where their food comes from, how to prepare it healthily, and how to turn their kitchen’s leftovers into compost for the garden soil.

The project is now a reality through Slow Food USA’s 2008 Slow Food in Schools Micro-Grant, the volunteer help of a local architect, and private donations. Still, construction has yet to begin. Unanticipated Arizona state budget cuts have halted progress on the outdoor kitchen’s construction, but the school continues—undeterred—to work towards its goal.