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Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Eatin' in the Garden

Thursday afternoon in the garden was accompanied by a lovely cold front (thank you, Ida!) that was great for our thirsty plants. With the brutal heat we’ve had the last three months, we’ve had to water excessively every shift. Luckily, it seems that we will have a break from our watering regimen for a little while, since the hurricane’s rogue clouds are bringing us some much-needed rain.

Unfortunately, it seems that some of our vegetables are plagued by a pesky fungus. It is all over the gourd, the zucchini, and the watermelon. Hopefully it won’t spread any more, especially since just about everything is putting out fruit now. We might have to do some research and see if we can do anything to stop it. We’ve also got some bad bugs in our poor watermelon, which with some luck the ladybugs will discover and take care of. The garden is looking great otherwise, though – every day we’re there we find more and more vegetables ready to be harvested and eaten by the hungry and curious children.

This week’s lesson is all about eating healthy food, and giving the kids a chance to make observations using their sense of taste. Our class today was really excited about being able to taste what they’ve been growing, and after breaking them into groups we were able to show them how to harvest the vegetables, what parts to eat, and why greens are healthy. We had some beans ready-picked for them, since we were running into trouble with some of the kids who wanted to pick things that weren’t ripe yet. They did get to pick their own spinach leaves, swiss chard, cress, and basil. The group leaders picked a radish and divided it within the group, so that we had enough radishes ready for all the classes that visit the garden this week. Most of the kids liked at least one of the vegetables we picked, and many times they would trade with their classmates if they didn’t like something and wanted another. We talked a little about how eating vegetables keeps you healthy, and about what parts of the plant you can eat. The radish was a great example of a root that we eat, and all the kids were fascinated by the fact that we were eating what grows under the ground.

What’s great about this lesson is that we can show the kids that eating healthy is fun and delicious. We’ve already had many kids express their desire to eat more of these kinds of foods. The fact that they are getting excited about food like swiss chard or spinach is wonderful, and I believe that it is because they are excited about the garden itself. Hopefully they’ll love the garden even more now that they’ve experienced it in the most essential way.

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