Friday Night Out Project happens every two weeks here at the Skip Garden Kitchen, but because it happens after cafe and work hours, and draws a lot our regular, well known to the garden local youngsters every session, I think I forget to shout about JUST HOW GREAT IT IS!
It's a wonderful time of evening when the workers venture off on their Friday evening commute as early as possible, and the over the winter months the twinkling lights of Kings Cross begin to illuminate the new streets and buildings; when kids and teens finish school and head home for a snack before gathering for football and socialising around Rubicon and Saxan court, while lots of parents finish work and go about hunkering down for a cosy evening at home.
And then the place comes alive again, but this time, it's the young people's turn to get active in their community. They play footie with Arsenal in the Community at the MUGA pitch off York Way. Some may do more chatting than football, but it's a time to be young and carefree and social. While they play and chat the Skip Garden Kitchen goes about closing it's doors to the public and readying itself for the hungry mob - putting out utensils and ingrdients, and finalising the loose lesson plan that always centres around a good mix of fun and healthy eating, sprinkled with a pinch of learning new interesting facts and life skills.
A mid March session on vitamin A (Beta Carotene) came about after an evening of great suggestions for themes that the young attendees wanted to cover over the coming year. The idea of cooking based on a certain colour theme led to the development of an orange session, because there were so many orange vegetables in the kitchen in late winter - carrots, oranges, butternut squash, sweet potatoes. Remembering old nutrition facts from home economics classes, an orange theme was the perfect segway into talking about vitamins and colourful fruits and vegetables in our diet and just how much they benefit us and are essential to consume on a daily basis. Vitamin A is found in abundance in orange fruits and vegetables, so despite them not all being seasonal or local (some sustainable food guidelines we usually try out best to adhere to in the Skip Garden Kitchen) we gathered a bountiful array of the most vibrant and carotenous veg. We chatted about the benefits of beta carotene - such as for the health of the epithelial cells that form the lining of our nose and throat, general immune system health, and for the production of rhodopsin, or visual purple, in our eyes which genuinly helps us see in the dark. It was really interating to think about just why orange food is healthy, and to consider the fact that the old saying that carrots make you see in the dark isn't actually too far from the truth. We munched on lots of raw orange fruit, like cantaloupe melon, papaya and oranges. We had pepper and carrots sticks and hummus, and we made some butternut squash and sweet potato wedges to dip in garlic mayo.
Even though we didn't make a big meal like we usually do we felt full and sustained, and everyone seems to have lots of energy from our healthy orange snacks. There was lots of very entertaining singing while we chopped and snacked, in between facts and nutrition discussions.
Well done to the kids of Friday Night Out Project for bringing life and enthusiasm, learning and fun to this corner of King's Cross.