11th Annual Natural Learning Design Institute

All About Food: Designing, Gardening, and Eating

The joy of nurturing a plant that bears fruit from a small seed or gathering ripe, sweet berries for a snack is found in the edible landscape.


At the 11th Annual Design Institute, we discovered new approaches and shared our insights on creating environments and programs that contribute to healthy nutrition and a love of growing food.

The 11th Annual Design Institute focused on the production of food in children’s outdoor learning environments. The design of vegetable gardens in early childhood outdoor environment offers multiple opportunities for children to understand the food cycle and to build the foundation for a lifetime of nutritious habits. Activities ranging from sensory exploration to science learning can always be found in the edible garden.

Symposium Presentations

Myles Faith, PhD, Associate Professor, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Children Eat What they Like: Shaping Child Eating Preferences and Food Acceptance

Jill Colella Bloomfiel,  MA, Cooking Educator and Author, Grow It, Cook It and The Jewish Festivals Cookbook for Kids. Shifting Our Food Lexicon: Syncing Thoughts, Words, and Actions in Early Childhood Food Education

Nilda Cosco, PhD, Director of Programs, Natural Learning Initiative. Introduction to Shape NC Showcase

Linda Hestenes, PhD, Associate Professor and Co-Director Birth through Kindergarten Programs, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, UNC-Greensboro Nicole Wyrick McCaskill, Outreach Trainer, NC Rated License Assessment. Can We Do It? Outdoor Learning Environments Rules and Regulations

Emily Jackson, Program Director, Growing Minds Farm to School, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. Farm to Preschool

Robin Moore, Dipl.Arch; MCP, Hon.ASLA, Director, Natural Learning Initiative and Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Design, NC State University. Welcome to Day Two and Reflections on Day One

Jeana Myers, PhD, Horticulture Extension Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Wake County Center. You Don’t Have Space – Never Mind!

Rhonda Sherman, MA, Extension Solid Waste Specialist, Biological & Agricultural Engineering, NC State University, Food for the Thought: Create Food for Plants Via Vermicomposting

Mary Moorachian, PhD, Professor, College of Culinary Arts, Johnson and Wales University, Charlotte, NC. Training Cooks and Connecting with Gardens – Healthy Futures

Linda Kinney, MA, Education Specialist/Manager, Playful Pedagogy, NC Zoo Education. kidZone: Nature Play, Programming, and Playful Pedagogy at the NC Zoo

October 2-4, 2013