Kids stuff: The benefits of gardening and cooking for young children

Jordan Diamond; photo by Jessica Merchant

Editor’s note: The following Q&A is part of Xpress‘ annual Kids Issues. 

Jordan Diamond, Bountiful Cities’ FEAST program and garden coordinator at Lucy S. Herring Elementary School, discusses cooking with kids, the benefits of gardening for young minds and the joys of being outdoors with students.

What role do you and the school’s Peace Garden play at Lucy S. Herring Elementary School? 

My role encompasses managing the school garden and teaching garden and cooking classes to all K-5 students at the school. The Peace Garden is where Herring Elementary’s ecology magnet theme comes to life. It is an outdoor learning laboratory, a food hub for growing and distributing fresh vegetables, and a place where our community comes together.

What do kids learn through the garden, and why is that important?

In FEAST classes, students experience every step of the journey of food. They plant and care for crops, harvest produce to eat or take home, cook vegetables they grew and tend the compost pile. We take the concepts they learn in the classroom and apply them to the real world, breathing life into math, reading, science and social studies. They learn where food comes from, and how they fit into the larger ecosystem.

What’s the most gratifying experience you’ve had from working with kids?

I love witnessing kids have unforgettable experiences with nature and food. I love being there for a child’s first time witnessing a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis, learning how to safely climb a tree, feeling the tickly wriggle of an earthworm or trying a new food for the first time. Their excitement reminds me to see the magic in the little things that are so easy to take for granted.


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