This week we are proud to feature a member of the Red Rabbit family, our very own Jennie Plewka! Jennie is part of our talented education team here at Red Rabbit. We sat down with Jennie to find out a little bit more about what she does at Red Rabbit!
So Jennie, tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up on Long Island in a small town called Coram in Suffolk County. I've been living in NY my whole life!
Most recently, I was the Garden and Compost Educator at seven branches of the Queens Library- it was exhausting but exhilarating! Before that, I worked for the New York Botanical Garden and Phipps Community Development Corporation as the Director of Environmental Education, managing a 2.5 acre organic community garden in the Bronx. I was also the New Roots Garden Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee, a non-profit organization that serves refugees from around the world.
How long have you been working at Red Rabbit?
And what is your position at Red Rabbit? We see you running around the kitchen collecting ingredients, but what do you do with them?!
I am the Red Rabbit Cooking and Gardening Instructor. I spend my days teaching children and their caregivers how whole foods grow and how to prepare them in delicious and nutritious plant-based cuisine. I provide hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences for diverse populations of students of all ages and abilities in classrooms, rooftop and community gardens, UPK / day care centers, after-school programs, and adaptive learning environments for students with special needs. I also help to develop curriculum that supports Red Rabbit's mission of encouraging children to explore, learn, and grow healthy relationships with food that will last a lifetime. I have also helped develop our internship program, helping to train and advise people working towards reaching their food-focused professional goals.
Well, that all sounds awesome. What about when you're not at Red Rabbit? What are your passions, hobbies, extracurricular activities?
I have a passion for gardening and growing food organically. I volunteer at Smiling Hogshead Ranch, a community farm in LIC (like us on Facebook!). At the farm, I facilitate workshops and community service projects that engage our members and volunteers. This year, I've taught Herbal Tea Making, Square Foot Gardening, Biodynamic Windrow Building, and led cooking demonstrations at the farm. I also love to paint and create jewelry. If it’s craftsy, count me in.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Red Rabbit?
It's more memories than one single memory. My passion for composting provides countless opportunities to explore one of my favorite animals with our students. Worms are wonderful garden ambassadors that help kids understand composting in a compassionate and tactile way. It changes their mindset about what is commonly considered a gross, slimy and yucky animal. Rather than yucky, worms are actually extraordinary creatures that transform our waste into black gold. By changing kids’ mindset about this one animal, they tend to open up about all of the strange and wonderful things we explore. I've turned hundreds of kids into worm lovers, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon!
Tell us some interesting facts about yourself! Maybe a secret? ;)
I received the Neighborhood Achievement Award from Mayor Bloomberg for starting the West Farmer's Market in the South Bronx in 2008.
I have a penchant for puppetry and performed with my puppets at the Hogshead Hoedown as Carol the Carrot and Baby Uni-Corn.
I'm a great swimmer.
I've got a Dalmatian named Peeka.
I am a beekeeper.
I have four worm bins.
I can get a kid to try any food... at least once!
If you're interested in taking a class with Jennie, you're in luck! You can find her on Thursdays from 4-5 pm all summer long at the new Whole Foods on the Upper East Side. Simply follow this link to register - see you there!
The Red Rabbit Team