Each day, we teach children how to grow, harvest, and prepare food. We use the seed-to-table practice of planting a seed, caring for it all the way to harvest, preparing it in the kitchen, and enjoying it as food in community. Through hands-on, inquiry-based garden and culinary classes, FirstLine students learn to care for themselves, one another, and the world around them.

Garden Education

In pre-K and kindergarten, children learn to follow their curiosity and build comfort with nature. They learn to use their senses, and care for things smaller than themselves. In lower school, students investigate the garden as an ecosystem for growing food. They are challenged to work as a team, to analyze experiments, to learn how plants grow, and discover how soil is created. Once they reach middle school, they are learning to manage parts of the garden themselves. They produce food and create value-added products, like jam. They build community through teamwork and sharing their harvest.


Sample Garden Education Units

The Story of Okra

The Story of Strawberries

The Story of Sugar Cane

The Story of Callaloo

How to Meet a Plant – 1st grade

Worm Life Cycle – 1st grade

Habitats 1 & 2 – 2nd grade

Observing and Classifying Garden Creatures – 1st & 2nd grade

Intro to Adaptations – 2nd grade

Adaptations 2 & 3 – 2nd grade

Flower & Fruit Functions – 4th grade

Garden Experiences

In addition to classes, ESYNOLA creates special garden experiences for students. Here are some of our favorites:

Watermelon Day

For ten years, Ben Burkett, his daughter Darnella Winston, and other farmers from the Indian Springs Farmers Cooperative have brought watermelons from Petal, MS, and enjoyed a day of fun learning and activities with students.

Field Trips

ESYNOLA brings students to botanical gardens, farmer’s markets, insectariums, and local farms to see the natural world, meet animals, and see where food comes from.

Culinary Education

When children enter our teaching kitchens, they explore food with all of their senses. During their time at school, students grow connections to food by exploring culture, history, and celebration. Students taste many new foods and feel how we build community through cooking and eating. By eighth grade, they can use their culinary and team skills to create their own recipes and prepare complete dishes.

Arthur Ashe and Samuel J. Green Charter Schools have full teaching kitchens where students prepare meals, snacks, and learn skills that make them great home cooks at an early age. Langston Hughes Academy and Phillis Wheatley Community School bring culinary instruction to garden classes, showing that you can prepare and share a meal with friends most anywhere.


Sample Culinary Education Units

Green Kitchen One-pager

Garden in the Kitchen – 2nd grade

Kitchen Culture – 4th grade

Culinary Experiences

Culinary experiences connect children to food and chefs, and bring the joy of cooking to the whole family. Here are some of our favorites:

Family Food Nights

At Family Food Nights, families cook healthy, delicious meals with food from the garden, and experience fun and tasty hands-on activities.

Iron Chef

At Iron Chef, teams of students work with chefs to apply their cooking skills to create a dish using a secret ingredient. Students take pride in their flavors, and the presentation of their final dishes.