Our first blog post describes the initial idea of Apples to Zucchini. Half a lifetime of experiences brought forth the idea. But implementation is another thing altogether.
It would have been a long and lonely endeavor to start a cooking school alone. It probably would not have happened. I needed a partner, a sidekick, a Thelma to my Louise. I needed accountability and whole other load of skill sets. My husband Mike suggested Terra Hillyer. She is in his running group, and Mike told me, "she is always posting pictures of her kids cooking amazing dishes."
She was a regular at Nite Moves, the weekly summer 5K run. I approached her and told her about my crazy idea. She immediately said, "WE could do this, and WE could do that." She was hooked! Her family was going away for a month at the end of summer. She said she would think about ideas, and we would talk upon her return. Would she remember my little idea? Would reality strike, and tell her what a crazy endeavor this would be?
She came back in time for school to start, and she hadn't forgotten about our as-yet-unnamed school! We started meeting regularly with each other and people who would support us. Her kids go to public school, so she has experience dealing with bureaucracy, school districts, and the myriad requirements we needed to meet. She has Type I Diabetes and knows more about nutrition than I ever will. I have started a few non-profits, so I knew how to structure and build the organization.
Together, we were unstoppable! We recruited our first Chef Educator, Michele Molony, who helped us develop an 8-week curriculum. We became a fiscal sponsorship fund of the Santa Barbara Foundation. We partnered with our first school -- Brandon Elementary, where Terra's kids were students (and participated in our first class.) We got an insurance policy, navigated the fingerprinting system, came up with a name for the school, and did a million other little things that it takes to start a non-profit.
It's like growing a garden. A seed by itself will just be a seed. It needs water, soil, sunlight. A little bit of attention can go a long way. Pulling weeds, choosing good soil, making sure the little seed is in the right spot to get not too much sun, or not too little.
That is what we did for Apples to Zucchini. We helped it grow. We have held classes in four schools. Classes have been taught by a dozen chefs, supported by six volunteers. Kids have cooked foods from Mexico, Italy, Japan, Austria, Spain and more. Students have tried foods they'd never heard of -- and discovered new favorites. Parents have been inspired to help their kids cook at home, and sit down to family meals together.
The Seed is Planted,
The Garden Grows
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