Hear the words “hip-hop music” and you don’t immediately associate gardening or nutrition education.
Unless you’re the Garden at Oracle Park team, who joined forces with Denver-based environmental activist and hip-hop musician Ietef “DJ Cavem” Vita and James Beard Award-winning chef Bryant Terry to host Bay Area youth in the Garden at Oracle Park in San Francisco for a unique educational experience.
DJ Cavem is a rapper, vegan chef, and avid gardener. Pioneering what he’s coined “eco hip-hop,” he passionately addresses food justice, climate change, and the importance of healthy eating through music. “I’m a true O.G.,” said DJ Cavem. “I’m an organic gardener!”
The Garden team first met DJ Cavem when he filmed a music video in the Garden in 2016, and they were thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with him again. While he set up his soundboard, Garden at Oracle Park Program Manager Sam Wilder and Program Coordinator Nina Abramson welcomed 20 elementary school-age students from two local schools, Dr. Charles R. Drew College Preparatory Academy and the Enchantment Institute, with a lesson on where food comes from. Next up, a scavenger hunt where children enthusiastically explored the Garden while they identified growing fruits and vegetables, tasted herbs with Bryant, planted radish seeds with DJ Cavem, and harvested kale with Nina.
Then it was time to cook and jam. Bryant, Sam, and Nina taught students how to make stir-fried greens with the freshly picked kale. Students also practiced their knife skills, making fruit kebabs with bananas, oranges, and strawberries. While the greens sizzled, DJ Cavem turned up the heat, performing songs from his new album Biomimicz, which he sells via seed packets that contain a QR code linking to his songs as well as to healthy recipes.
The kids met DJ Cavem’s energy, dancing their hearts out and busting a move until it was time to enjoy the food they worked hard to prepare: sautéed kale and vegetable stir-fry over brown rice and fruit kebabs.
“My mind is blown with flavor!” exclaimed a student after taking a bite of the stir-fry. The Garden at Oracle Park team couldn’t help but grin as they listened to the children argue about who ate more vegetables, and many pronounced, “This is the best field trip ever!”
Submitted by Sam Wilder, Program Manager