Introducing Leah Cherry and Skill It

October 16, 2012 1 Comment

I am so excited to introduce you all to Leah Cherry, owner and founder of Skill It.

I was able to interview Leah and I know you will be touched and inspired by her work and mission. Be sure to read through to the end to learn about a wonderful discount Leah is offering to her upcoming e-course Season’s Eatings. I hope you will join the e-course — I know I can’t wait for it to begin!

Kelly: First, can you tell my readers a little bit about who you are and the work you do?

Leah Cherry, owner of Skill ItLeah: While I work with food and education, at heart I am an artist and a designer. I grew up in California and took every imaginable kind of art class: theater, painting, pottery, photography, boat-building, and letterpress. My mother is a musician and an expert seamstress; she taught me how to sew and cello lessons were mandatory.  My father is an engineer, cyclist, and fine woodworker; he taught me how to garden and use every tool in a traditional wood shop. Both my parents nourished a sense of exploration, creativity, and ingenuity in my childhood and I draw on that constantly for my work and everyday life.

I have always loved cooking and started making dinner on my own when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I subscribed to Martha Stewart Living and had a sewing machine in my room where I would make all kinds of projects and clothes. Growing up with the time and space to make things on your own is something I see as precious for nurturing a child’s spirit, confidence, and independence. I strive to create classes, experiences, and a community that encourages healthy, simple, and creative living.

Bean Salad made by Leah Cherry of Skill It

K: How did you come up with the idea for Skill It? Where did the inspiration come from?

L: Skill It was inspired by a vision of creating educational experiences for kids that would create a bridge between healthy, hands-on cooking and other practical and creative skills. I always knew I wanted to be an educator but traditional classroom teaching did not feel like the right fit. My sister attended a Waldorf school when she was 10 and I was 14. It made a big impression on me in the way it connected different subjects together in a more holistic, natural way. This approach to childhood and education plays a major role in how I create Skill It’s classes and workshops.

In 2005 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to move to Hawaii where I worked as a restaurant manager and volunteered in the Mala’ai middle school garden. I loved seeing how all children shine when they are trusted to do the very meaningful and grown-up work of digging, composting, planting, and weeding.  When we had a harvest festival, I could see and feel the pride the children took in preparing and eating what they had grown; their enthusiasm for sweet potatoes, green salads, and edible flowers was palpable!  There seemed to be no such thing as a picky eater when the kids were involved in their dinners from seed to plate.

A few years later, living in Rhode Island, I realized that I could create this kind of education by teaching children how to cook while also including other basic skills like sewing and gardening. After working in several community and after-school programs with elementary age students, I wanted to go beyond the classroom and connect with the parents to share the tips and techniques we use at Skill It to get kids more involved in cooking at home. This is when I decided to create virtual classes so I could meet parents in their own kitchens!

I am delighted to be part of a growing movement of farmers, educators, chefs, and families that value the time and effort it takes to cook whole foods and eat them together.  I know that in our busy lives many people struggle with the family dinner time routine and many parents did not learn how to cook when they were growing up.  I love working with the whole family to offer recipes, resources, and inspiration to make time and space in their lives more home-cooked meals.  And to have fun, meaningful conversations with each other while they’re eating this great food!

Mother and son cooking at a Skill It cooking class

K: What is the mission of Skill It?

L: The mission of Skill It is to teach children and their families how to cook, sew, make and grow, time-honored talents that remain essential for living well today.  Skill It is founded on the belief that working with your hands nourishes your spirit and connects you to family and community. All of our work aims to nurture self-reliance, confidence, and the appreciation of traditional knowledge.

K: You have an amazing online class starting in a few weeks. Please share the details with us.

L: Thank you for the kind words, Kelly!

Season’s Eatings is an online course for families filled with recipes, activities, and inspiration to create a connection with your kids in the kitchen and at the family dinner table.  It is a four-week program where you learn some of the tried & true Skill It tips for how to include your children in the process of putting dinner on the table each night.

Because there is a wide range of ages and experiences in the Skill It classroom, we use scissors instead of sharp knives to cut vegetables. We cut them into long sticks first and then hand them over to the kids to cut into bite size pieces for salads or soups. In Season’s Eatings there are a lot of prompts and suggestions on how to engage little hands and minds in the whole process of cooking and eating, from the market all the way to the plate.

Girls cooking at a Skill It cooking class

My favorite part of Season’s Eatings is the community we create together.  Families from coast to coast connect in our online forum to share their stories, dinner time successes, or food questions. While we cook at our own pace, it absolutely feels like everyone has pulled up a chair to a virtual family dinner table.  And we have a great conversation that celebrates the simple joy of food, family, and teaching our children {and ourselves} how great it feels to connect with the pleasures of eating together.

Season’s Eatings is delivered from November 5th – 26th.  On each Monday you receive an email with a full-color, printable weekly workbook. Our community meets in a private Facebook group where we have lots of fun talking about food, family, and cooking.
You can sign up by clicking here.

Perched to Fly readers can enjoy a special discount by entering “PERCHED” at checkout.

K: Thank you Leah, for taking the time to talk with me, and also for the wonderful discount you are offer Perched to Fly readers. I can’t wait for Season’s Eatings to begin on November 5th!!

 

Comments (1)

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  1. Leah says:

    It’s so lovely to be part of Perched to Fly! Thank you so much for having me!

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