After surveying all the goodies in her elementary school garden Hailey Bell rushed to the tasting section so she could try a slice of green pepper dipped in ranch dressing.
“Not bad,” said Bell, 7, a first-grader. “It tastes like lettuce. It’s good.”
Mary Garner, a fourth-grade teacher at Summerfield Elementary School, beamed as student after student stood in line to sample green peppers, radishes and squash.
“The goal is to get them to eat more vegetables,” Garner said. “They are more interested in trying them when they have a part in growing them.”
Summerfield embarked on a “teaching garden” this school year, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the American Heart Association via Citigroup. The donation covered everything from growing boxes to the soil to the plants.
Students built and planted the garden.
The kids recently enjoyed their second harvesting day. They will have even more foods to sample before the school year is over since some of the fruits and vegetables are still growing.
Garner, who is in charge of the project, said students had much more success the second time around. They got better soil, made sure to rid it of weeds and worked to figure out what crops grow best in Florida’s hot and humid climate.
“We’ve learned a lot,” she said.
Even Garner, an avid gardener, discovered a new treat thanks to the garden. Earlier this school year, the kids harvested kale and baked it into chips in the school cafeteria.
“I liked them so much I went home and made some,” she said. “I had no idea kale was good.”
Some of the vegetables, however, didn’t appeal to the youngsters. One in particular had few fans.