At Grauer School, the kitchen and garden are new classrooms

Grauer School student Chase Callahan.
(Courtesy of The Grauer School)

A new course offered at Encinitas’ The Grauer School gives students the opportunity to learn about healthy food choices from every perspective, from harvesting their own fresh ingredients to learning kitchen skills and interacting with local chefs and farmers.

Over the summer, school faculty whipped up the new “Harvest Kitchen and Cooking” class, which will be offered for the first time this fall as an elective course for students and also school parents.

Stephanie Murphy and Kelle Rocke, who serve as the school’s garden coordinators, will be teaching the new course.

During the class, students will source fresh ingredients from the campus garden and orchard, such as fresh tomatoes for pasta sauce or apples to make apple pie. They will also learn culinary skills like working safely with knives as they fillet fresh catch fish, and plating their dishes artistically.

The class will also take field trips to markets where they’ll learn how to shop for local ingredients and select the best produce, attend guest lectures and cooking demonstrations, and understand the nutritional properties of the food they prepare. Trips to flower gardens and vineyards are also in the works.

In addition to sparking the inspiration of young chefs, the new course is also intended to highlight and reinforce the connections between nature, rich soil, delicious food and human health.

“Tying together the garden and the kitchen is not only a long-held dream of the school, but the recipe for mental and physical health most needed in every educational setting,” said Stuart Grauer, head of school and founder of The Grauer School in a news release. “Spending time in natural settings, whether hiking in the woods or tending the school garden, promotes both mental and physical well-being, and there is a wealth of scientific literature to support this conclusion.” — Karen Billing