Cooking competition comes to Warkworth

Cooking competition comes to Warkworth

These days televised cooking competitions are all the rage and have huge audiences. On June 11th, a bit of that excitement and passion came to Warkworth. The students of Mrs. Anderson’s grade 8 class put into practice the skills and food lessons they had learned over the course of the school year in the weekly Abundance Project cooking class.
Four teams of approximately 8 students each were given one hour to prepare from scratch one main course dish and then present their work to our panel of local judges; Chef Tina Moorey from On The Side catering, business owner Elizabeth Aitkenhead from Our Lucky Stars café, and fitness coach and Abundance cooking volunteer Alaria Richie. Judges then evaluated each dish based on a number of criteria formulated by the students themselves.

It was clear from the time that the competition was presented to the students that they were excited and very motivated by the challenge. The class was given about 10 days to research their recipe, assign tasks within the team and to develop the rating criteria. Students were encouraged to select healthy recipes that incorporated ingredients from all food groups. We were very encouraged to note that the final ingredient list for the pantry had about twice as many vegetables as any other food good.

Given the size of the teams, and the space restrictions in the church kitchen, only two team members were allowed in the kitchen or the ‘pantry area’ at one time. There was plenty of scurrying to and fro by team members – even a mad dash up Main St. to pick a bit of mint from the Community herb garden. All the while judges circulated amongst the teams, observing how they worked and offering the occasional bit of professional advice.

Once the hour prep time was up, two members of each team presented their dish to the judges, explaining why they had chosen that recipe and commenting on any challenges their team had faced while preparing it. The room fell silent and 30 students watched with great anticipation as the judges tasted each dish, completed their evaluations, consulted amongst themselves and made comments to each team.

Although the judges selected a runner up and first place team, in the end every team was a winner and all the students clearly gave their best and prepared some fantastic meals. We look forward to working again with Mrs. Anderson’s students next year and to another Master Chef challenge.

For another take on this event please visit this link:

Abundance After School Program

Abundance After School Program

For six weeks this spring the Gathering Place and kitchen of St. Paul’s United Church echoed with the happy sounds of approximately 20 children from Percy Centennial Public school. The program, a partnership between the Abundance Project, the Early Years Program of the Northumberland YMCA and the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge Health Unit offered these young people a variety of activities.

As with all Abundance Project initiatives, a critical aspect of this program was to provide the participants with healthy eating choices and the opportunity to learn basic kitchen skills. Every week, the participants had 20 to 30 minutes of kitchen time to prepare things like fruit kabobs, muffins, and granola bars.

While not learning new kitchen skills, the participants took part in craft activities and various physical activities including yoga and social games.

Each week a special story was selected and read with the group which tied into the kitchen activity. For the final week, the kids were read Stone Soup, and then went on to assist in the preparation of a vegetable soup to be served to their parents and family the final evening.

Judging by the enthusiastic response of participants and parents, it is most likely that an After School program will run again next school year.

Abundance at Percy Centennial Public School

Abundance at Percy Centennial Public School

With our grocery stores full of processed foods, where all you have to do is open a package and chow down, it’s easy for kids to develop unhealthy eating habits. It’s our job to rear them in the right direction, by educating them about healthy living. What better way than to get out there with them to cook, create, and ultimately enjoy the fruits of our labour.

The Abundance Project has been collaborating with the students at Percy Centennial Public School to create programs that promote healthy eating, responsibility, and community involvement. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to lately:

Cooking Class

Since January 2014, Percy Centennial students have been baking low fat/low sugar muffins for the breakfast program at school. Mrs. Julie Anderson’s Grade 7/8 class has also been coming to the St. Paul’s kitchen for weekly cooking classes. They’ve prepared things such healthy snacks, roasted vegetable soups, and thin crust pizzas. By teaching cooking skills with limited use of highly refined flours, sugars and fats, the students are learning all about healthy snack choices. It’s wonderful to see the students enthusiastic and positive about these classes.


Vegetable Growing Contest

Launched on Earth Day to the whole student population, this initiative is meant to get students involved and excited about growing and eating vegetables.

With the support of the Warkworth Farm Supply, and their seed supplier, Ontario Seed Company, enough packets of vegetable seed were donated for each student to be able to start several seedlings at school.

Mr. Peter Brackenbury worked with the Percy staff to help the students plant their seeds in class. Once the seeds are established, students will be provided with planting instructions and are encouraged to plant their vegetables at home and care for them over the summer months.

In conjunction with the Percy Agricultural Society, a new category has been added to the children’s competitions at the Warkworth Fall Fair. The Abundance Project will be providing a small cash prize for first, second and third place winners in each of the four grade categories.

Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens

On Saturday May 3, a small group of volunteers and students gathered on the front lawn of Percy Centennial PS to build two, 4×8 foot, raised bed gardens. This project was spearheaded by Mr. Peter Brackenbury, who was instrumental in establishing an eco garden on school grounds several years ago. This allows for the senior grade students to have hands on experience in planting and tending vegetables at school. We hope that some of the vegetables grown can be used by next year’s senior students involved in the fall cooking class.