Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle

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Worm Dance.pngReport from the classroom by Brenden Jackson. It's been a cold rainy last couple of weeks, which means our young gardeners have really been getting to know their garden worms. Together we built a large worm hotel which has grown from 1,000 wiggly friends to nearly 3,000! The Dirt Detectives have been using all of their observation skills calculate their worm size, how much they weigh and how much food they can compost into the black gold known as vermicompost.

This week we harvested our first collection of vermicompost, the nutrient dense manuer produced by the worms, weighing in at a whopping 25 pounds. With a market value of $1 a pound, this proved to be a great lesson in how much of our "trash" can actually be a valuable resource with a little bit of planning. In the coming weeks we will be applying our class harvested fertilizer to our future tomato beds, ensuring we have rich nutrient dense soil to produce luscious bountiful tomato harvests.

We've not only been learning the important role our worms play in the garden and the microcosm that is our garden soil, but also their anatomy, how they move and what they eat. Our youngest future farmers made menus for the worm hotel so we always know what feed them (veggies only!), while our oldest veggie enthusiasts have been busy studying all five of the worm's hearts and comparing the drainage difference between worm-rich soil and soil devoid of our little friends. We have even put together a Worm Dance to really get into the spirit of studying these super poopers!

Whether inside or outside the garden offers ample opportunities for hands on and experiential learning, and these kids are loving it!



Put a Badge On It!

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Thumbnail image for Girl Scouts_1.jpgThe San Jacinto Council Girl Scouts have found their Recipe for Success! They are arriving to RecipeHouse in droves to earn prized culinary and nutrition badges, including our coveted VegOut! patch.

It's no secret that Recipe for Success Foundation is the premier host to help children acquire life-long cooking skills in a healthy and fun atmosphere. The Girl Scouts were among the first to discover this a decade ago. Now about 50 Scouts a week fill RecipeHouse to learn our hallmark healthy and delicious recipes and cook their way toward GSUSA Badges. Carried home by Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors, the aromas of our healthy snacks and simple meals permeate Houston's family kitchens and dinner tables. Girl Scout troops can learn cooking skills alongside professional chefs, or design their own badge or journey workshops. We even have a special VegOut! patch. Contact us to plan a class for your troop or meeting, or visit the San Jacinto Girl Scouts Council Information Network to register for one of the already-scheduled classes held throughout the year.

These healthy learning opportunities aren't limited to scouts--anyone can join in the fun! Now other youth groups have picked up the scent and made their way to RecipeHouse. The Jack & Jill Woodlands Chapter and a local National Charity League chapter of ninth grade girls have put their aprons on, too. We offer customizable cooking classes for all ages designed for you and your friends, family and coworkers at both RecipeHouse and Hope Farms. If you are interested in booking a cooking class, give us a shout at (713) 520-0443 or info-at-recipe4success-dot-org

USDA Vote of Confidence

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Vets Nov 2018.jpgWe are very excited to share the news of our selection for the largest grant in the nation conferred by USDA in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to support our program to teach Veterans to farm and incubate their new new urban agribusinesses in Houston. With a three-year $1 million grant we will expand our training program to serve 24 Vets and bring a new Veteran Outreach Ambassador onboard at Hope Farms. Trainees go through a fully paid, 2,000 hour multi-disciplinary program of horticulture and business curriculum over the course of one or two years. Then we help them launch their new enterprises.

One of our motivations in tailoring the Hope Farmer Training Program to Vets was the discovery of how well warriors with post traumatic stress responded to working in a horticultural environment.

"When you've been surrounded by death, hate and tragedy, being in a field surrounded by life--the soil the plants the sounds the wind, it's extremely theraputic. Healing does happen." Daniel Smith, graduate of Hope Farmer Training program.

Now veterans can continue to give back to their community by nourishing them with healthy food. What could be better?

Pictured above are Vet Trainees, Chrostopher Katthage and Jose Montemayor with Justin Myers, Cheif Agricutlural Officer and Jamie Zarate, Hope Farms Manager.

We Don't Lose with Snooze

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IMG_3383.jpgOver 400 volunteers and members of our boards and committees pitched up on a Saturday morning to kick-off the holiday season with a complimentary breakfast from our newest community partners Snooze Eatery to benefit the Foundation. We all had a delicious time and raised an outstanding $2,700 to benefit Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ in our Showcase Schools--MAcGregor and Rodriguez Elementarys in Houston. Who doesnt love pancakes? Next event with Snooze will be a Pancake Breakfast at Hope Farms to kick-off our free Earth Day Family Festival at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday April 6. Pictured above, Advisory Board (AB) member Karen Penner with her family.

Let's S.P.I.C.E. Things Up!

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Sharon & Jackie.jpgIt's an exciting time at the Foundation as we take our volunteer engagement to the next phase with the launch of S.P.I.C.E. Guild in 2019. Special People Influencing Children's Eating are all generous individuals who will support the mission of Recipe for Success Foundation through a personal commitment of time and resources. Advisory Board Members Sharon Sanders and Jackie Fair (pictured above) have taken on the job of developing and launching our new Guild Program with the help of CIGNA Community Ambassador Fellow, Christi Bowers. We are so excited to design and implement a Guild structure that allows our already committed volunteers to take ownership of key public facing elements at Hope Farms including an Education Committee to manage the children's cooking and gardening classes; a Garden Committee to maintain our Pollinator Garden, Children's Garden and Chef's Kitchen Garden; Special Events Committee to produce our free Earth Day Festival and First Saturday at Hope Farms events; Operations Committee to oversee member buy-out events; and the Farm Shop Committee to operate our retail boutique. Every element of S.P.I.C.E. work will support our efforts to Teach, Insprie and Empower healthy eating and to use Hope Farms to build community around shared meals and harvest celebrations. Intersted in joining? Email Taylor. Definitely plan on showing your support us as we celebrate the S.P.I.C.E. Guild's initial efforts with a Pancake Breakfast at our Earth Day Festival on April 6.

Kicking off 2019 with VegOut!

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Gracie and Maggie Vegout 2019.jpgMaggie Flecknoe and CW39 showed up at RecipeHouse to get some delicious VegOut! recipe inspiration from Chef Greg Martin of Bistro Menil. From a Super Veggie Bowl to Braised Chinese Cabbage and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Balsamic Vinegar, Greg helped us check off 13 Veg right off the bat. Maggie started a CW39 team so you can join her in the fun as part of your new years resolution to get healthy, but we warn you--she's pretty competitive. Jump in the fun of #VegOut2019 at vegoutwithrfs.org and see the entire segment with Maggie HERE.

2018 Was a Whirlwind

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Gracie in Chefs Garden.jpg2018 was an exciting year for Recipe for Success Foundation. We launched our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs in a dozen new elementary schools in Texas and Louisiana where we teach kids healthy eating skills; we inspired over 12,000 people across the country --and even a few in Australia--to make healthy choices with our VegOut! Challenge; and we transformed 7.5 acres in Houston's Sunnyside neighborhood into a vibrant urban farm where we grew more than 50,000 pounds of fresh produce, inducted three U.S. Veterans into our farmer training program and welcomed thousands of visitors.

Hope Farms has become not only a resource for fresh, affordable produce in Houston, but also a bucolic setting to inspire people, young and old, to reach for the healthy choice. Our weekly farm stand, full schedule of cooking and gardening classes, hundreds of student field trips each year, community meals crafted from freshly harvested food and shared around the table in our Gathering Barn and our harvest celebrations like the annual Earth Day Festival, all help Houstonians connect with healthy food in a new and exciting way.

We have a hopeful vision and a commitment to building a healthier world. Hoping to see you around our table in 2019!

Fall Fun in the Classroom

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GQ2B0189.JPGBy Brenden Jackson-Healthy Eating Ambassador. As winter winds and rain unfurl across the landscape, we prepare for spring and reflect on our fall Seed-To-Plate Nutrition Education™ classes in our two Houston Showcase Schools. Rodriguez and MacGregor Elementarys are where we rollout and test new curriculum content that will be available to our Affiliate Partners next year. This year's test theme is Farmers MarKIDS, which we developed years ago as a short unit for older students and are now adapting for PreK-5th graders to enjoy over a 10-month activation.

We've just wrapped an exciting growing season as our students thrived on learning the ins-and-outs of organic gardening and healthy meal preparation all while getting ready for their first Farmer MarKIDS DAY farm stand in May. Following the growth of their food from the seed, to the plant and finally to the plate, provides a holistic connection to healthy eating habits as well as lots of hands on and experiential learning opportunities.

Hungry for knowledge, the 6,7,8,9 and 10 year old foodies planned their school gardens, sowing seeds for beans, radishes, lettuce, carrots and other seasonal favorites. As our plants began to form into tasty veggies, we took the time to enjoy raw samples (discussing the flavors and nutrients) before transforming them into delicious nutritious salads, soups and more. Many of Houston's finest chefs, including Jada Cre from Urban Chef (pictured) voluntered their time to help us teach the kids to cook up some scruptious dishes.

Never missing a chance to strengthen STEM skills, we incorporated a little financila literacy to help students learn how to measure their garden's growth and production levels in order to calculate fair prices for their labor. These future entrepreneurs have been comparing grocery store and market prices around the city to figure out just how our food systems work and how they should price their own crops.

Dropping temperatures and winter rains can make out hard to get outside, but present a perfect excuse for learning how to preserve our crops. Our Farmers MarKIDS worked on canning, pickling and fermenting their harvests all with an eye on value added goods to sell at their markets stand.

Everything they learned during the fall has helped our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ students plan their spring garden with an eye on business. January and February will find them busy preparing their garden beds and learning about how healthy soil connects to healthy bodies. They are anxious to apply their new knowledge about food production, pricing--and most importantly--taste, to their own farm stands in May. Houston may be getting colder but we are just warming up!

If you are interested in bringin our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs to your school, you can find more information HERE.

Hope Farmer on CityBook Cover

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Screen Shot 2018-12-21 at 2.06.41 PM.pngOne of our Hope Farmer Trainees, Marine Veteran Christopher Katthage took a day off from tending crops to have a high-wattage turn in designer threads for a story about Hope Farms in the January Food Issue of Houston CityBook. Getting tapped for the cover came as a surprise for this first time model who obviously has talent in front of the camera! Check out the shoot.

Forbes Features Hope Farms

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This Houston Urban Farm Honors Veterans With Jobs

Claudia Alarcón

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