There’s been a noticeable back-to-school buzz around area elementary schools recently. It’s not kids talking about a coveted new character lunchbox or even what neat things they did over the summer. Haven’t you heard? They’re talking about fresh local cucumbers and edible garden plots.
Why cucumbers? September is cucumber month in Growing Minds’ Get Local @ Schools initiative, in which schools feature a local in-season ingredient — much like its parent Get Local community campaign at restaurants, retailers and tailgates.
At Cullowhee Valley School (CVS), Debbi Madill’s kindergarten classroom kicked off its first cooking demonstration by learning about cukes. They read Cucumber Soup, a book about the adventures of a colony of ants whose anthill has been squashed by a cucumber. The tale prompted a class discussion on cucumbers and other veggies growing in their school garden.
Afterward, they began imagining their snack gardens. Using crackers covered in hummus or cream cheese, students “planted” cucumbers here and peppers there. Of course, they eventually ate the gardens.
ASAP Farm to School fellow Monica Gatti reports that many CVS students couldn’t wait to taste their concoctions. “We tried to get the students to wait to eat their final garden plot crackers together,” she says, “but many of them just couldn’t and were sneaking tastes of the crunchy veggies!”
Through ASAP’s Local Food and Farm to School Education Project, Gatti leads regular cooking classes and taste tests with students at CVS.
“I would really like to have this recipe to make at home,” one first-grader told Gatti after finishing his plot. The recipe is easy to follow: just wash and slice the veggies, spread hummus or cream cheese on a cracker and arrange the vegetables in any pattern you desire.
If parents are worried their kids might shy away from all the fresh vegetables, they can share this encouragement from another CVS first-grader: “All you have to do is try. You might really like it!”
The garden plot crackers activity is adapted from ASAP's cooking in the classroom lesson plan. More activities and recipes can be found at growing-minds.org.
Maggie Cramer is ASAP’s communications manager; she can be reached at email@example.com.