Team Greens explores plants, farming, and nomming

 

Last updated 7/4/2023 at 12:37pm

Photo by Jerry Baldock

Kids from Sisters Elementary School make edible mini-gardens at Seed to Table's farm, using farm-fresh veggies.

Students gathered in a circle with educator and Programs Director Hannah Joseph at Seed to Table farm. Around the circle, each child announced their name and a vegetable.

"My name is Lachlan, and I like carrots," said a boy in a plaid shirt.

"My name is Mysie and I like green onions," said a girl dressed in a red shirt and cap.

Together with others from Sisters Elementary School, they named their group Team Greens.

Students examined vegetables they'd planted on previous field trips, such as onions and lettuce. With Joseph's guidance, they observed where cold weather had made a leaf brown around its edges.

"Mysie, do you want to harvest the green onion?" Joseph inquired.

"Yeah!" said Mysie. "Green onions helps your sense of smell."

Team Greens picked leaves of lettuce and spinach to make a snack. But this was no ordinary snack. On a big rice cracker, each child made a "garden." They started by spreading homemade hummus for soil. Then they planted their gardens with fresh salad turnips, radishes, and greens. Before long, the gardens were in their bellies.

"Are they woolly mammoths?" asked a second-grader, pointing to a nearby pasture. They were not woolly mammoths; they were Highland cattle, rocking their long horns and flowing with long hair.

"Be gentle with all animals-cows and bugs and worms and humans," Joseph reminded the kids.

Watching the day's many activities was Jennifer Orange, grandparent of student Ani. A master gardener visiting from out of state, Orange said she was very impressed by the program.

"A lot of kids don't get experience with vegetable gardening, don't make that connection between what we eat and how it gets there," Orange said. "So I love this."

Vegetables taste "extra good being as fresh as they are here," she noted. "Ani's eating things she would never eat at home."

"This is a great facility," Orange declared. "Sisters is really lucky to have it."

Adults and kids turned their attention to the mystery plant game. For this, Joseph brought out old coffee cans, each swathed in fabric that hid something inside. Kids bravely thrust their hands into the can, then guessed what type of plant they were touching.

"I know exactly what plant it is," said a boy in a maroon T-shirt.

"Broccoli!" the kids of Team Greens proclaimed. They soon learned from Joseph that "when we eat broccoli and cauliflower, we're eating flowers."

Another activity involved learning the different parts of plants. Lachlan volunteered to be dressed up as a big, human plant, over his plaid shirt. Soon he sported strings for roots, green pants for a stem, real leaves, and an apple for fruit and seeds, topped off with a paper flower crown.

Educators moved students briskly from one educational activity to the next, covering a great deal of literal and educational ground in less than three hours' time. At the end, students gathered in a circle again. They shared some of what they had learned:

"Don't trip on the bark chips," advised Sheviva.

"I learned about different kinds of plants," Ani shared.

"Cows are like vacuums," observed Carson.

"Don't get nommed by a cow because it hurts," said Lachlan. He clarified that he had not been nommed by a cow.

Said Mysie, "If you eat more vegetables, you grow stronger and you might hold something heavy you didn't hold before."

Carson added, "If you eat a lot of turnips you get used to it."

Orion wasn't sure. He had fun, but "it feels kind of weird because we're actually going to a farm instead of doing schoolwork."

As Joseph later explained, "They're totally learning things, whether they're aware of it or not." The experiential, exploratory approach suits different styles of learners, allowing students to learn and thrive.

"I love coming to Seed to Table. We grow plants and we harvest," said Mysie. She added, "I like that the farmers made spicy stuff!"

"I liked harvesting and getting the lettuce," said a boy in blue.

In closing, the kids all yelled: "Thank you, farmers!"

A parent volunteer rushed up to Joseph. "Thank you so much," the parent said. "I learn so much every time I come out here."

For her part, Joseph's favorite part of the day was the scavenger hunt. "They got to explore on their own a little bit, without so much grownup direction," she explained. Read more about Joseph and farm-based education on page 6 in this issue of The Nugget. Seed to Table Oregon is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing the community with hands-on, farm-based education; sustainably grown, fresh local produce distributed through a wide variety of channels; and leadership and management of Sisters Farmers Market.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Seed to Table offers summer educational activities for a span of ages, along with volunteer days and a harvest dinner. Learn more at

seedtotableoregon.org.

 

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