The 2012 Classroom Gardening Project Lesson 2
View our full report from our Second class visit! ClassroomJournalLesson 2.pdf
It had been three weeks since the first visit with the schools and the chefs were excited to get back into the classroom to see how the gardens are coming along.
Our second visit begins with the students making guesses about which plants came from which seeds as none of the gardens were labeled during our first visit. The students are encouraged to make their guesses based on size, leaf shape and texture, how fast the plants grew etc. They were given hints (beans grow fastest at the start and have the biggest leaves, squash takes the longest to germinate etc.) to help them identify which plants were which.
Our chefs also brought a variety of root vegetables to explore: Heirloom carrots (purple, orange, yellow red and white), celery root, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, potatoes, beets (golden, candy cane and purple) shallots, yams and even a little fennel (I know, fennel is not a root vegetable – but it looks cool!)
The conversation begins about what part of the plants different vegetables come from. Children already learning about different parts of the plant and their functions, but to continue to drive home the point that vegetables come from the ground and not a store, we explore plant parts using vegetables as examples – celery and asparagus = stem, lettuce = leaf, broccoli = flower etc.) Finally we talk about roots and how root vegetables have been used through history to ensure that people have access to fresh vegetables through the harsh winter months. We talk about how root vegetables are stored through the winter and how essential they were to Canada’s early settlers and First Nations people.
I always find it interesting how little our kids know about vegetables. Not one child in 20 classrooms could identify a turnip, or a rutabaga. Not one student identified a celery root, or fennel. Maybe 4 or 5 knew a radish when they saw one, and maybe 6 or seven of nearly 500 students in the entire project could identify a beet. No wonder our children are not eating as many vegetables as they should be – would you eat something that you could not identify?
After exploring the different root vegetables, or chef volunteers have their first chance to prepare a dish for the students to taste. I have included the base recipe in this post, but I always find it so fascinating that every single chef creates a completely unique dish with virtually identical ingredients – and in every single case – the dish is delicious. The students are encouraged to have at least one taste of the vegetables – and nearly everyone enjoys it. For many, it is the first time tasting food a professional chef has prepared – it is very exciting – and generally the excitement of watching the chef chop and build a salad right in their class will trump any anxiety about tasting new foods.
For the chef volunteers – it is incredibly empowering to watch a room full of kids trying healthy food and getting excited about it! Most remark how good it made them feel to be able to make an impact with the kids.
Students were given a booklet of recipes as a gift from our amazing classroom sponsors to take home and hopefully continue trying new foods at home.
Stay tuned next week for our report on lesson three!
Happy Eating Everyone!
¼ celery root, peeled and grated
1 carrot peeled and grated
½ bulb fennel thinly sliced
1 handful baby spinach
1 apple, cored and grated
1 orange peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 C raisins or cranberry raisins
5-6 mint leaves chopped
HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1 tsp salt
pinch cracked black pepper
1/2 C pure canola oil
- Place all of the vegetables except the spinach into a mixing bowl
- Pour all of the Dressing ingredients into a mason jar and close the lid
- Shake the jar until all of the ingredients have come together.
- Dress the salad with an amount of dressing that you feel will coat all of the ingredients and the remainder, if any can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 weeks
- Toss the salad and serve immediately on a bed of baby spinach.
- Children can be encouraged to pick the salad up with the spinach leaves and eat like a “vegetable taco”