Spring Beginnings: Brainfood Youth Garden Updates

Exciting things are happening at the Brainfood Youth Garden at our Mount Vernon Square site! My name is Elana Bachrach and as the Cooks in Training and Garden intern this spring, I get the opportunity to work with the amazing Garden Manager, Jon, to plan and maintain the Brainfood Youth Garden.  The garden provides youth leadership opportunities and serves as an educational tool to promote local food systems, sustainability, composting, and healthy eating.  Engaging Brainfood students in collaborative garden work encourages growth in their responsibility and civic and social ability and empowers them to be resourceful and productive members of their community.  In addition, the garden provides delicious, organic, fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables to our Cooks in Training and Community Cooking Coaches programs.  

The gardening journey begins in “Seedling Alley,”  the quaint corner of our Mount Vernon kitchen that houses plants in their earliest months.  Seedling Alley provides a controlled environment for plants that would otherwise freeze in the garden during the winter months.  Our current flourishing seedlings include hot peppers, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs and flowers.

Once Jon and I deem the seedlings strong enough to brave the outdoors, they are transplanted into the garden.  Before transplanting, the outdoor weather should be consistent and the plants should be sizable with a strong root structure. Determining the best time to transplant the fragile plants is tricky, especially when mother nature sends a surprise snow storm after weeks of mild spring weather. 

Luckily, a variety of plants persevered through the storm and continue to grow into happy and delicious produce in our garden. Currently, our garden is home to arugula, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, collards, garlic, kale, peas, radishes, and more!   

Our beloved garden fig tree is beginning to sprout its first figs of the season.

Raspberry bushes are beginning to look more lively after braving the winter months.

These beautiful lettuce heads will be ready to harvest in just a few weeks.

Looking ahead to the upcoming weeks, we will harvest lots of kale and lettuce and more seedlings will be transplanted into the garden, bringing colorful flowers and fruit.  We also plan to build a mason bee house to attract friendly pollinators, revamp our garden signs, and host many volunteer groups. Look out for garden updates in the future to learn about more exciting developments happening in the spring!