This post was written by Liani Astacio, Communications Intern at The Sylvia Center and Prep for Prep scholar.
The Sylvia Center kicked off its first week of its farm food education program with the Green City Force students. Young adults prepare for their green careers by working together to ferment vegetables harvested directly from Green City Force’s farm at the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn.
Not only do these students get to work on an urban farm, but they also had the chance to catch fresh air in an outdoor kitchen. In a city where outdoor space is limited, it’s an unique opportunity to be able to harvest fresh vegetables and cook a meal while surrounded by tall buildings in New York City — one of the most densely populated cities in the country.
After a series of brief icebreakers, the students rushed to harvest their favorite vegetables for fermenting. They harvested their vegetables with a remarkable amount of ease, demonstrating skill and experience. Before the students started conducting the fermentation process on their vegetables, they asked and answered a variety of important questions related to food and health. Students questioned the nutrition of fermented vegetables compared to fresh vegetables, which they learned lose some of their nutrients during the fermentation process. Questions about raw food, calories, and the eating habits of the first humans also were discussed passionately in the class. In addition, Sam, our Community Chef Instructor, spoke about what “eating the rainbow” truly means. She explained the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables because: ”there are different things like amino acids that help us make proteins in our body but we need to bring them in first to make that happen.”
After their curiosity was satiated, the students quickly engaged with their work and began to cut their vegetables, put their vegetables in their respective containers, and add spices like red pepper, star anise, garlic, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick. The smell of fresh vegetables and the spices was so tantalizing that the students waited to take in the scent before adding the salt water brine. After completing these last steps, each student walked a way with their own jar of pickles to share with their families.