Organizers with the Lafayette School Garden Initiative held their fourth annual On Cuisine du Jardin Cook-Off on Saturday, where students use vegetables they've been growing all year to make competitive dishes.
The goal of the cook-off is to provide local youth hands-on experience using vegetables grown from their school gardens and/or local produce and knowledge of healthy food choices.
All teams prepared their dishes, or MyPlates, at the event, held at David Thibodaux Stem Magnet Academy.
Each team consisted of 3-5 students, enrolled in a school garden initiative in Lafayette Parish. Teams also included an adult coach who is a school representative, a guest chef, and a current local elected official. Teams prepared a savory recipe that completed the MyPlate requirements. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins were eligible for the competition.
Charles Hebert, LSU AgCenter County Agent, explained, "Many of them are taking those concepts home now and starting vegetables with their parents or grandparents at home. They're learning how to get back together as a family and cook their own produce that they're raising at home, and they're also cooking that produce in the school."
The program began in 2009 in an effort to engage youth and improve life skill development and health in the community. The gardens incorporate school curriculum as an outdoor laboratory teaching anything from science, math, English, history, and more. It's was established in conjunction with the Lafayette Parish Master Gardener Association, the Lafayette 4-H Program, and the LSU AgCenter.
Learn more about the program here.