February Garden Tour

Citrus is booming in San Diego County (though not here at 4,200 feet in Julian) so it makes for a perfect February/March harvest of the month.

To kick off this lesson, I bought five containers of orange juice and things that “look like orange juice.”  We did a little consumer education as the kids passed the bottles around looking for the percentage juice, other ingredients, and marketing techniques (pictures and phrases.)  We then analyzed them together based on their observations.

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After deciding that 100% juice was the best, we squeezed our own 100% orange juice and everyone received a small cup to drink.  (We did some classes inside, others outside, depending on the weather.)  I found that using an electric juicer made the process quick enough for each child to try his/her hand at it.

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Upper grade students started their lesson with a slideshow I made about citrus varieties, citrus pests, biological control and California history.  Then they spread out and played a “grapefruit fact” matching game I created a few years ago.

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A few other garden activities lately include:

A “love note” to the garden displayed on our bulletin board for Valentines Day :

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In after school class, Miss Kat continues to wow kids with her exciting lessons and field trips.

Planting peas:

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Creating mountain puma art, after lessons on local wildlife:

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Although everyone worked off the same picture, the results were wonderfully varied!

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Kaitlyn Kuiper, 1st grade

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Aryana Bennington, 1st grade

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Gavin Leck, 1st grade

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Carlo Martinez, 4th grade

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Kasen Mushet, K

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Jackson Angel, K

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Liaden Mitchell, K

And finally taking trips with Club Wild (a joint program with the Volcan Mountain Foundation) to Mount Volcan to learn about watersheds and water!  (Lucky kids!)

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“No thank you” bite

One of my favorite nutrition education tools is the “no thank you” bite.*

The idea is this:  you have to take one bite in order to earn your “no thank you.”  After one little nibble, you may politely raise your hand and ask for permission to throw away your sample.  Emphasis on politely–no “yuks” or “gross!”

It totally works.

I can’t tell you how many times a student has confidently told me that he or she does NOT like what I’m about to serve.  I remind them of the “no thank you bite” rule, they try it, and then they ask for seconds.

In my classes with K-2 students, we are focusing on the six edible parts of the plant.  Last week we were on “flowers” so we sang the Banana Slug String Band song, did stretching exercises to review the six parts, talked about cauliflower farming and roasted cauliflower with olive oil and salt in the portable oven.  Again, I made converts with this simple technique.  Even better, I’ve had many parents tell me that their students have brought this idea home, insisting that siblings take their “no thank you bite” at the dinner table!

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*Thank you to Olivewood Gardens for this great tip!

 

 

Drink a rainbow

An effective phrase for teaching nutrition to children is “eat a rainbow!”  The simple idea is that eating fruits and veggies of all different colors builds a healthy diet.  We made this a theme on Food Day 2015, and I want to keep building upon it.

Sage Garden has provided us with their notebook of recipes which includes a different color smoothie for each grade.  I pulled all of the different colors and am doing “Drink a rainbow!” workshops for my after school students.

I began by setting up the Sage Garden cooking cart with all of the equipment and ingredients laid out and the recipe written on the whiteboard.

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Then I gave each pair of students a stack of laminated fruit and vegetable cards produced by the California Department of Education.  The students sorted the fruits and veggies into two piles:  orange/yellow and other.  We talked about all the orange and yellow examples we found.

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Students came up one by one for the various jobs:  juicing the oranges, peeling the bananas, pressing the limes, adding the strawberries, measuring out the yogurt.

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The next week we did purple smoothies, and this week we will blend up red ones.  As you can imagine, it’s a very popular class!

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The Great Julian Apple Crunch

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Today Julian Elementary and Junior High celebrated National Food Day with 15 workshops on nutrition, cooking, backyard gardening and agriculture.  It was amazing—look for upcoming posts with photos and stories.

For now, let me share a video with you.  Every year people across the country celebrate good, fresh food with an Apple Crunch event.  We did one this year, thanks to Ken and Linda Limon who visited a neighboring orchard whose owners allowed them to harvest for free, picked 400 apples, hand sorted them, packed them in flats of 50 and delivered them to cold storage in the school kitchen.  We washed and bagged them by class size.  Students wore their red No Excuses shirts to school, Garden Ambassadors held up big leaves, and our principal got on the roof to film the event.  The weather was sketchy today but it held just long enough…..five minutes later, downpour!  Simply amazing.

Thank you Linda and Ken—you made this happen!

 

 

It works, it works, it works!

Nutrition/cooking education.  Make no mistake: it works.

It’s said all the time but I’m here with hard evidence to prove it: When you grow and cook food with kids at school, in a fun, interactive way, they are more likely to try new foods and want to cook at home.

As mentioned in the last post, we made ratatouille in our garden/kitchen class.  I also sent home a letter with the recipe to each family and encouraged the kids to teach their parents the recipe.  I said, “If you do make ratatouille at home, please send me a picture.” The very next day I started receiving these:

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Once I received the picture, I visited the student’s class with congratulations,  a few questions about his/her cooking experience at home, and an invitation  to have lunch in the garden that day with a friend.  I’m thrilled that at our school “lunch in the garden” is a motivating reward, as it is sometimes hard to think of incentives that aren’t sweets/snacks or little throwaway objects.

None of this is lost on you, dear readers, but allow me to list the levels of goodness here:

-Students have a positive experience with a certain food at school and bring that excitement home.

-Students show off newly acquired skills to parents, and we all know that re-teaching is good learning.

-Families learn new recipes—in this case, one that is vegetarian, seasonal, adaptable and affordable.

-Students are congratulated and rewarded in front of their peers for extending their learning after school.

Many thanks to Wynola Flats for sourcing these delicious vegetables and ordering what I needed.  I can’t tell you how exciting it was to stop in yesterday for more ingredients and have Stacy say, “People have been coming in, buying ingredients for ratatouille….”

 

Harvest of the Month: Citrus

Our December Harvest of the month (broccoli) was still going strong in January…

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…and then we switched to “citrus” for our January-Feburary Harvest of the Month.  I put out a call to friends and colleagues “down the hill” where citrus grows, and my desk was soon buried in bags of lemons, oranges, and grapefruit.  We began to use them up by:

….making orange pomanders with whole cloves….

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..making our own “non-toxic” cleaners in the afterschool garden class to clean the tables in Club Jaguar (we steeped lemon and orange rinds in vinegar for two weeks)…

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…..creating a seasonal wreath with oven-dried citrus rings to decorate the Club Jaguar door….

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…squeezing lots of homemade lemonade…

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..playing a “memory” game with grapefruit facts…

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…enjoying “taste test” stations with blood oranges and three types of grapefruit…

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….reading  An Orange in January by Dianna Hutts Aston and The Red Lemon by Bob Staake…

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….and sending kids home with lemons and recipes to make lemonade, cleaners and invisible ink!

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