Here’s a quick look at two days that exemplified the journey of our young Metro Deaf School entrepreneurs, who have been engaged with us since this last spring through their job training program, learning and building job, business, and agricultural skills. This fall, they engaged in a complete farm to table experience at Urban Roots. Speaking with great authority, the students then taught their younger classmates about their Urban Roots experiences in our Market Garden, Conservation and Cook Fresh programs.
One chilly morning this October, students began the day harvesting dill, preparing it for sale, creating an invoice and then delivering it to the restaurant kitchen at Cook St. Paul. We were greeted by head chef and all-around-great-guy, Taelyn Lang. He took the time to show us around his kitchen and give a little history of Cook St. Paul. Homemade buns were baking in the oven and their signature Korean hot sauce was being stirred in a giant mixer. We learned how they make their yogurt in house and that they butcher a whole pig every two weeks. After the kitchen tour, we walked down the narrow back stairs to the dining room, where we were seated with other restaurant guests to enjoy a meal that incorporated the fruits of our labor. Among the delicious entrees, the students ate cheddar leek scones and an omelet with Serrano chilies. The chilies and leeks were also harvested, washed and packed by the students. Students ended the meal with full bellies and presented Taelyn and the waitress chocolates they had made in their entrepreneurial class.
The story continues on a crisp, sunny Friday in November when Metro Deaf School brought their whole school for a volunteer event. A table full of warm cinnamon rolls and bacon-egg-jalapeno rolls (made with jalapenos grown in our gardens) from Cook St. Paul greeted students under a golden Honey Locust tree. Students described the Urban Roots Market Garden and Conservation programs to their classmates, expressing great pride, ownership, and knowledge about their work with us.
We spent the morning cleaning up Dellwood Gardens and preparing the garden beds for winter. All 25 students pitched in and worked to the best of their abilities. In the afternoon, the school worked with Conservation staff at the DNR site collecting trash. At the end of the session, we were joined by a Conservation Officer who spoke with the group about career opportunities with the DNR.
Students returned to our demonstration site and sampled watermelon radishes prepared with sesame oil and sea salt. They wrapped up their volunteer experience with Urban Roots with a “shopping spree,” taking home the vegetables gleaned during the garden clean-up. Students quickly filled their bags with veggies, and returned with smiles, asking to come back to volunteer the next year.