Saturday, November 15, 2014

"All I know is that I like to eat kale."

NPR's All Things Considered ran a delightful story on the kids at Watkins Elementary in Washington, D.C. Why These Kids Love Kale, (Nov. 14, 2014).

There, thanks to Food Prints, a program founded by the program D.C. nonprofit FRESHFARM Markets, the kids have a garden that they tend. They grow healthy food as a class, and then they all get to help prepare it.  As 9-year-old Alex Edwards says, "All I know is that I like to eat kale. I like it, I like it, I like it!"

There are lots of problems in the world right now.  Lots of problems with our food system, significant environmental challenges, and increasing inequalities.  So, once in a while, it is refreshing to hear a story that reminds us that not all problems are overwhelming or insurmountable.
"A big part of it is allowing them to do real work," says FoodPrints Program Director Jennifer Mampara. She believes kids get tired of doing work that only is meant to keep them busy. With Foodprints, "they really go into a real garden. They're really harvesting it out of the ground. And they're actually cooking the food themselves."
It's actually a very Montessorian concept - the belief children want to learn how to do things for themselves and to do productive work. I observed it first hand in my past days in running a Montessori pre-school and child care center.

School gardens and involving children in food preparation is such a simple concept.  But, of all the things we do to try improve our food system, it may turn out to be one of the most enduring and significant.

Changing the way we think about food, one child at a time.


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