We’ve got things growing in the garden … so, now what?
That’s one of the vexing challenges of a school garden: finding ways for kids to “cook” the food they’ve grown. A lucky few schools, such as Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, where Alice Waters started her first famous Edible Schoolyard, have built a dedicated kid-friendly kitchen. The rest of us muddle through.
At George Watts, we’re only in our first year of gardening, so we’re winging it. My plan of attack, so far, has been this: Grow (mostly) food we can harvest and eat without necessarily cooking it. Secure a water source for cleaning. Set up permanent work stations outside.
Our first harvest event with the kids was “Salad Days,” and it’s definitely worth repeating. Our nutritionist, Becca Wright, and I led classrooms through harvesting lettuce, radishes and herbs, then creating a tasting menu. Tasting plate were piled with salad, radish salsa and dipping sauces. We supplemented the food we’d grown with tortilla chips and store-bought carrots (because the carrots we’d hoped to use weren’t mature enough yet to harvest).
Kids split into groups to harvest the lettuce and radishes, pick and chop the herbs, mix the herb dip, concoct a salad dressing, and make the radish salsa.
Tip: Invest in kid-friendly knives. Becca brought these fantastic green plastic ones so no one would lose a finger.
Not only did the kids get a mini-nutrition lesson, they flexed their math muscles (measuring ingredients) and made a connection between the plants they’d been growing and the food they eat.
The pre-K through 5th grade students had a blast being outside (what kid wouldn’t?), teachers loved it — one said it was the best thing she’d ever done at the school — and it felt great to finally eat something after months of getting the garden up and running.
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup light cream cheese
2 tbs chopped chives
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp chopped sage
(Note: We used chives, thyme and sage, because they’re growing in our garden. Use whatever you have.)
1. Measure yogurt and cream cheese and put them in a large bowl. Mix well.
2. Chop fresh herbs. Add them to bowl. Stir.
We grew radishes and cilantro in our school garden this fall, among other things. This next recipe came from Isaac Dickson Elementary School in Asheville, N.C. (Thanks, Kate!) The original recipe called for poblano or jalapeno peppers, but we left them out and added tomatoes instead.
6 large radishes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp freshly squeezed lime
1 tsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes chopped
1. Half, pit and peel the avocados and cut into chunks.
2. Clean radishes and tomatoes and cut into small chunks.
3. In a bowl, stir together avocado, tomatoes and radishes.
4. Chop 1/4 cup fresh cilantro and add to avocado mixture.
5. Stir in 2 tsp lime juice and 1 tsp olive oil.
6. Stir together lightly and enjoy with tortilla chips.