Friday’s rain didn’t keep local garden educators away from a day of professional development training. Attendees at the all-day workshop, Cooking the Common Core, listened attentively to energetic trainers Joyce Lin-Conrad of Education Outside and Rosie Branson Gill of 18 Reasons, both from San Francisco. The workshop was part of the School Gardens Program training series designed to model best practices for garden educators working in 32 school gardens in Santa Barbara County.

The Common Core State Standards, which will be fully implemented in California schools in 2014-2015, were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts. The CCSS are research-based, internationally benchmarked, and designed to prepare every student for success in college and the workplace by including rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills.

This particular workshop focused on various ways to integrate English/Language Arts and Math Common Core standards into the garden curriculum in an engaging, hands on and relevant way. And what better way than cooking and eating healthful, tasty food grown in the school gardens.

The Brassica Fried Rice lesson had attendee “students” counting off into groups of 6-10 simulating the situation occurring in the outdoor classroom setting. At their various stations, students honed real-life skills such as using a paring knife to chop turnips, cauliflower and cilantro into 1-centimeter cubes. The ELA assessment phase of the fifth-grade lesson asked students to describe their culinary experience using adjectives while the math assessment required students to determine the fraction of the class that worked on each ingredient.

During the Chard Tabbouleh “Rap” lesson, students demonstrated an understanding of word relationships such as homophones/heterographs through the creation and performance of a “rap.” Following the presentations, students enjoyed “wraps” tied neatly with a chive tie.

The School Gardens Program is a partnership between Santa Barbara City College’s Center for Sustainability and the Orfalea Foundation. Click here for more information on the School Gardens Program or upcoming workshops, or contact Trish Stone-Damen at

— Trish Stone-Damen is program manager of the School Gardens Program.