- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Jasmine O’Hare reached out her hand, eager to try a piece of raw turnip.

But once Julie Dietz, Seton Harvest outreach manager, handed O’Hare a piece of it and she took a large bite, she immediately scrunched up her face and looked for a place to spit it out.

She found a napkin and quickly chugged some chocolate milk to wash the taste out of her mouth.

“That was nasty,” O’Hare said. “But the yum-yum pepper tastes good.”

Wednesday morning, O’Hare was one of about 100 Evans School third-graders that toured Seton Harvest, an Evansville Certified Naturally Grown not-for-profit produce farm. The students were split into three groups and had the opportunity to hear Dietz read aloud “The Vegetables We Eat,” by Gail Gibbons while seeing firsthand some of those root and stem vegetables.

They also started their own garden of turnips and radishes before everyone convened at the farm’s new education center and had a farm-to-table lunch. Prepared by Culinary Innovations at Thyme in the Kitchen, it included a ham-and-cheese sandwich, carrots, yum-yum peppers, celery sticks and ranch dressing, as well as watermelon and milk.

The produce was donated by Seton Harvest, and community partner Franklin Street Bazaar provided funds for school buses to get students to and from the farm and the rest of the lunch items.

Dietz said it is important for kids to know about farms and where their food comes from.

“It’s a great community partnership, and we’ve worked together to get these students out here to us,” she told the Evansville Courier & Press (https://bit.ly/ZvakVf ).

“And the highlight is they’re going to be picking some vegetables (tomatoes) that they will then have incorporated into their lunch,” said Karen Conaway, Franklin Street Bazaar market master. “So they’re going to be able to eat the harvest of their own labors. It’s wonderful.”

It all started at an Evansville Leadership meeting, Evans third-grade teacher Tracie Stafford said. Stafford was chatting with Conaway about wanting to expose her students to fresh fruits and vegetables and incorporate healthy eating habits into her classroom.

That’s all it took for Conaway and Seton Harvest to adopt Stafford’s class.

Conaway said Seton Harvest initially participated in the Saturday morning Franklin Street Bazaar - a market new this year that ran weekly for about three months - and had to stop after a few weeks for other business reasons, but they still wanted a way to engage. So six weeks ago, each farm vendor at the Bazaar, as well as community members, would donate locally grown food and Seton Harvest would match them pound for pound.

And every week, Conaway and Dietz delivered baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables to Stafford’s class that she used in all areas of the classroom, including math, science, literature, writing and cooking.

“Many of these kids have never had any of these fruits or vegetables,” Stafford said.

Jada Huffine, 8, said she has learned about tulips and pumpkins and how they grow in the soil.

“And you should eat fruits to keep healthy and so you can grow strong,” Huffine said.

Izabel Reynolds, 8, chimed in that the class learned about watermelons and the different seeds inside them.

“And we learned that ‘cause you need the nutrients in the healthy foods to stay running, and it’s good if you exercise to eat a nice healthy meal whenever you’re done,” Reynolds said.

The first time the food was delivered, Seton Harvest farmer Joe Schalasky went along to inform the kids about the food. Dietz said she and Conaway wanted to take it a step further and get the kids to the farm so they could see how it grows.

“A lot of these kids didn’t know carrots grew in the ground with these big, beautiful green tops. … Because they’re inner-city kids, a lot of these kids think of a farm as being all animals, and we’re a produce farm, so we needed to get them out here,” she said.

Not only did the students learn about the food, but they turned it into a community service project by sharing it with other Evans classrooms and their families. Conaway said it was been a “tremendous experiment” that has opened young minds to knowing the importance of local and healthy eating.

“The kids really have taken an interest in where their food has come from, how it’s grown, how it betters their bodies,” she said. “And then the children are able to truly understand that value and take it home and share it with their families.”


Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide