By Francie Lin, GFN Writer-in-Residence I think everyone would rather forget the early pandemic days…
Our Grow Food Kids program had a busy month in January! Our featured workshop series for the month, Apple Veggie Wraps, included visits to 28 classrooms at all of the Northampton’s elementary schools. Taking the lead from the Mass Farm to School Harvest of the Month Program, our workshops are designed to incorporate the featured local product in conjunction with the school cafeteria. January’s Harvest of the Month featured food was apples. This program provides an easy opportunity for school food services to promote local options. Our collaboration with the schools is becoming more interwoven and we’re proud that the school cafeterias served our wrap recipe for lunch one day in January!
Each Apple Veggie Wrap workshop began with a fun lesson on winter tree identification. Using apple branches and other branch clippings, our Local Food Educator, Ellena, explained the many ways which we can use our senses to notice the features of a tree in the winter in order to identify it. Students were each given a branch and asked to use their new skills to find others in the class with the same type of tree branch. Conversation filled the classroom as kids noticed the type of bark, smells, colors and other distinct things about their branch as they grouped up with like branches.
After this fun lesson and activity, students returned to their seats to learn about the recipe of the day. After a brief overview, helpers passed out ingredients and everyone got to chopping apples, shredding carrots, spreading hummus and assembling their own individual wraps. Optional ingredients like spinach and a squeeze of lemon juice were added to taste.
A highlight of this workshop series was the chance to show school leaders and newly elected legislators how much fun and learning goes on at a Grow Food Kids workshop! We were happy to host MA State Senator Jo Comerford and MA State Representative Lindsay Sabadosa. Read a detailed account of this visit here.
“Thanks for your lesson today. My fifth graders loved it, and thought the food was delicious. I had no idea how many of them hadn’t ever fixed simple meals or cut and peeled veggies and fruits. They were so psyched to take their recipe cards home.” -Kiernan Slattery, Jackson Street 5th grade teacher
Now that we are halfway through the school year, we can really feel the way that Grow Food Kids has grown and is becoming a beloved part of the experience of elementary school kids in Northampton. We love hearing about our recipe card on the fridge in families’ homes and comments like this from the school office at Ryan Road:
“The response from our students and their parents about the wrap has been overwhelming. Parents have been laughing saying they have offered those things to their children (who snub their noses). But after the visit from GFN, they want to make them at home (and eat them!).”
We’re so happy to be fostering this type of learning! Watch this space for a wrap-up of our current workshop, Butternut Squash Pudding…