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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I've never worked with kids before, and none of my gardens have ever survived longer than a season. That being said, gardening with the kids at Melrose is more than just an adventure--it's a challenge. The idea of not only supervising 7- or 8-year-olds but also teaching them was totally out of my comfort zone, yet the cause is near and dear to my heart.
Food is a passion that I think everyone should share, especially making wise choices about food. The kids at Melrose Elementary are live in a food desert, with nothing but gas stations and quick-stops in the neighborhood. Many of them probably don't have easy access to fresh produce, and may have little idea what that actually is. By gardening with them, all I want is to get them interested, or even just more familiar with vegetables. There's more than just apple slices and carrot sticks waiting for them in the garden.
The first thing that I asked my little group of kids was what their favorite food was. They were on to me from the start, and knew that I was looking for fruit or veggie answers. They named off corn, apples, carrots, etc. Some of them hesitated before just repeating one of the last answers.
Once we got into the garden, however, their palates seemed to unconsciously expand. As soon as they found anything that looked edible, they would ask if they were allowed to eat it--before even asking what it was.
The effort it took to keep them from stripping every basil leaf, every unripe pepper from the plants was incredible. The novelty of something being ready to eat off the stem (though not much of the garden actually is) just drove them crazy, to put it bluntly.
By the time they had left, my team and I tiredly picked up bits of half-eaten peppers and pea pods that had been sneaked when we weren't looking. We couldn't really be mad. I mean, they're eating their vegetables, aren't they?

Love and peas,

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