The Edible Learning Lab is more than a classroom. It’s a place to get your hands dirty, to learn by actually doing. Students learn through success and failure as the natural process of food production unfolds through an integrated system of Learning Stations that include:
Seed Starting Station – The conversations begin by creating a growing medium and discussing the essentials of light and moisture in germinating seeds. This is where Students begin exploring soil and early plant biology.
Soil Management Station – Establishing good, healthy soil is important in the raised planters and the discussion shows how plants use nutrients in the soil to grow and set fruit. As plants mature, it’s imperative that the soil is well cared for and maintained to support the crops. Proper watering and soil amendments become an important factor.
Hydroponics Station – What can be done without soil? The exploration of hydroponics provides a counter view to traditional soil-based agriculture and the class will experiment with this technology to grow even more produce with less space and less water. This makes the water source even more important.
Water Management Station – Water is vital to plants and the source of that water could affect the health and vitality of the harvest. Capturing rainwater is a perfect exercise to explore conservation and yields water that is vastly superior to what comes out of the tap. Using water properly, understanding its value as a resource and finding ways to use it wisely is key.
Teaching Kitchen Station – With the raised beds and hydroponics stations working to produce beautiful, fresh, wholesome food the class starts to explore what can be done with it. The teaching kitchen brings the Students face-to-face with the flavors, textures and colors of real food as they have some fun learning how to transform basic ingredients into tasty and healthy meals.
Compost Station – All that harvesting, pruning, processing and eating will generate plant waste. But that’s not the end of the life cycle of food. The Earth Cube composter turns that organic waste into beautiful “black gold” that can be used to recapture and feed nutrients back to the raised beds and seed station. The Students will also use compost teas as fertilizers and foliar sprays to improve the plants in the gardens. Nothing goes to waste.
Vermiculture Station – As a small scale example of the benefits of composting in the system, Students are introduced to Vermiculture. The vermicomposting bins are teeming with Red Wiggler worms ready to munch on the organic material collected to feed them. Students learn through first-hand observation the role microorganisms play in converting waste to nutrient-rich soil.
Seed Saving Library – How can the class make the system more sustainable and improve community biodiversity? Harvesting and saving seed from the best performing crops will help them do just that. The Students will learn how to select for specific attributes and build stronger plants. They will also explore the methods for collecting, preparing and storing seed. Once the library is established, the class can work with the community to help preserve the local agricultural heritage through a Community Seed Bank and Library. This sets up the Lab and the larger community to build local biodiversity and continue to grow successful crops season after season, year after year.