Vail chef creates edible school yard
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado -Chef Kelly , who owns Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, has teamed up with the Vail Valley Foundation and Brush Creek Elementary School in Eagle to help develop “Sowing Seeds,” a school-yard garden program for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The program will emphasize nutrition, agriculture, and sustainability, as well as providing students with hands-on knowledge of their environment. “The best way to bring community together is through food, and that starts with children at a young age,” said Liken. “Education about the importance of eating and sourcing local ingredients makes a tremendous difference in our daily lives. I hope to share all that I have learned in and out of the kitchen with these students.” The edible school yard will consist of a greenhouse garden, located on the grounds of Brush Creek Elementary, which is near Liken’s own home. The greenhouse will encompass a variety of growing methods for teaching and learning, including a hydroponic system that will allow the students to grow and harvest food year-round. The first crop will consist of a varied lot of vegetables such as broccoli, beets, and parsnips, as well as fruit such as strawberries, and herbs, including Italian basil, peppermint and pineapple sage. Two beds will be dedicated to hydroponic systems, including lettuce varieties, while Jardenia and early girl tomatoes will also be grown. While the benefits of the hydroponic gardens mean a quicker yield, the traditional crops are expected to be harvested in mid-to late May. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to join forces with Kelly Liken to make the Sowing Seeds program a reality,” says Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation. “We are well aware that many valuable life lessons can be learned outside of the traditional classroom.” Liken will meet with the children on a regular basis throughout the year and will lead them through various exercises, including learning how to care for a garden, enjoying the products in various recipes – including how to extend them for use throughout the winter season through methods such as such as pickling. Liken will also recommend resourceful and fun ways to reuse, reduce and recycle, whenever possible and lend her expertise on the importance and benefits of composting. Children will also learn to organize, label crops, water, and fertilize.Every summer, Liken sells her namesake homemade gourmet snacks at the Vail Valley Farmers’ Market and hopes to also bring some of the products grown at the Sowing Seeds greenhouse garden to the market this summer as well as introduce them onto her menu at Restaurant Kelly Liken. The Vail Valley Foundation and Brush Creek Elementary School hope to continue this project throughout the 2010-2011 school year with continued help from supportive parents, the community, and volunteers. For additional information on the Vail Valley Foundation visit http://www.vvf.org.