Would your child willingly eat coleslaw or a radish?
If they are involved in gardening, they would! Through our school’s learning garden, all of our students are tasting and eating new vegetables they’ve never liked before. You should hear the parking lot conversations between moms! They are astonished to hear their child request radishes for dinner! Seriously… radishes! Our students are learning how delicious fresh vegetables are. They are excited to try new vegetables because they have ownership and interest in what they have grown in their garden. They are making the connection between soil, seed, science, and their own food supply.
The harvest from our learning garden has been abundant this season! So much so, we are able to provide fresh vegetables for the school lunches. In cooperation with the school nutrition director, we implemented the Food Safety Tips for School Gardens from the USDA and are following proper procedures for safe food handling.
The first vegetable we delivered to the school kitchen was cabbage. The third graders grew and harvested the cabbage heads. They washed their hands and wore garden gloves while harvesting. They brought the produce to the school kitchen and traded their garden gloves for disposable plastic gloves. Next the students washed the cabbage thoroughly. The cabbage was stored in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, the school cooks used the cabbage to make coleslaw. The fresh coleslaw was an additional vegetable choice for all third graders during lunch.
It was fun to see the students’ expressions as they took the first bite. They all knew that this was their cabbage. With each bite, their pride was apparent. Eating the vegetable was their reward for working the soil, planting the seed, nurturing with water and nutrients, harvesting and preparing. Who knew a vegetable could be used as a reward?
It’s exciting to know that our students are learning in nature and also eating healthier. The partnership between the learning garden and school cafeteria will continue to create skills and healthy choices that will benefit our students for a lifetime.
Read more about classroom gardens in our Learning Garden blog series: