All Kinds of News for November 08, 2017
In April of 2016, Pacific Quest started the Eat Local Initiative at the Young Adult Program at Reeds Bay. This initiative was created to help track the amount of produce being harvested and cooked, as well as to help create motivation in the student milieu. The program tracks whatever every student grows and harvests from the gardens; it is weighed, cleaned and documented. Then when it’s time for meal prep, students check to see if any of the freshly harvested produce can be cooked with that meal. If this is the case, then the food is used during that meal and documented. At the end of the month, based on how much home grown produce was cooked in the meals, the students are given a stipend to spend on specialty or rare items to use in the kitchen, such as cacao nibs, coconuts, and other island treats.
Alumni & Family Services Liaison Dara Downs works closely with Annette Nickontro, Young Adult Kitchen Manager on this project. Annette oversees every part of the kitchen, working directly with students in creating weekly menus and recipes. For many students, wandering the garden to collect herbs and produce is a whole new experience. Annette adds, “It’s been exciting to see the students pulling produce they grew from seeds and creating some amazing recipes for things like hot sauce, pesto, leafy green stir-fries and kale chips!”
The team found that since the Eat Local Initiative started, 990 pounds of produce has been harvested from the gardens, and of that, students have cooked 490 pounds of food. With these numbers, the team concluded that the group is harvesting approximately 55 pounds of food per month and preparing about 27 pounds of food from the gardens per month.
Once Dara realized how close students were to reaching 1000 pounds, she told them, and their immediate response was, “What? Only 10 pounds away from 1000, we are so close, let’s keep eating what we grow! That’s a crazy amount of food.” Soon after, Annette and the students harvested 12 pounds of basil and made a bunch of pesto to freeze for the winter! So after a year and a half the students reached 1000 pounds of harvested produce from the gardens. When asked to comment, PQ’s Horticultural Therapy Director Travis Slagle, M.A. said, “The need for self-sufficiency is both practical and emotional. The young people we serve benefit by knowing where their food comes from and taking an active role in sustaining their community. At PQ, we believe the experience of self-sufficiency is transferable and relevant across the lifespan.”
With the Eat Local Initiative in place, the team is focused on creating realistic goals and continuing to build a self sustaining agricultural model at PQ.
About Pacific Quest
Pacific Quest is an outdoor therapeutic program, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, for struggling adolescents and young adults that offers a clinical, yet holistic, approach to treatment. Our neurodevelopmental approach, combined with horticultural therapy, integrates evidence-based therapeutic methods, whole-person wellness and organic gardening to sustain a healthy community and motivate change.