Chesnut Garden’s main objectives are to familiarize students with how their food grows and to encourage them to develop a taste for a variety of fruits and vegetables. How does this work? If they grow it and/or harvest it, they will eat it (and ask for seconds)!
Garden Leader Carissa Malone attests to this:
“Ms. Hobgood’s parent helper told me her daughter never touches salad at home but ate her whole bowl today! I’ve seen it time and time again…it truly makes a huge difference when the kids see the food growing, watch it being picked and put onto their plate. They are always so excited to eat it! It also makes a difference when they see their friends around them trying it. Many kids at first said “no” to trying the bell pepper but when they saw their friend next to them happily gobble it up, they changed their minds and wanted a piece.”
In November, Ms. Malone, all four Kindergarten classes (Ms. Austin, Ms. Huitt, Ecology Club Teacher Sponsors Mr. Chicoine and Ms. Hobgood) and special education class (Ms. Merriweather) visited the garden for a salad tasting. Ms. Malone demonstrated how to harvest the lettuce so that it will continue to grow and then the classes found seats on the tree stumps to watch Ms. Hobgood and a parent helper wash, spin and tear lettuce for their salads.
The children topped each bowl of lettuce with store bought carrot, croutons and dressing, and were offered a taste of Chesnut Garden green bell pepper. As they munched, Mr. Chicoine gave a spelling lesson on the parts of the salad, and surveyed the kids on how it tasted.
Many of the students requested seconds and most cleared their bowls. A secondary benefit of this experience is that it surprises parents and teachers to see the enthusiasm of the kids, demonstrating that, with a little motivation, we can expect children to eat their veggies. We see the same effect in the cafeteria on Farm to School lunch days: the children surprise the cafeteria staff by choosing the fresh fruit or vegetable, even coming back through the line to get some if a new batch was being prepared when first they came through, sometimes all for the sake of receiving a hand stamp.