Monday, January 16, 2012

Why maintaining an organic greenhouse and having a student kitchen may empower kids to make healthy choices...

I am very much obsessed with the greenhouse visitors to EPCOT are exposed to in "The Land". Though I do not need something as elaborate, it is an extremely good idea to have students maintain a greenhouse.

I think my fascination with student gardening began when I was interning in second grade in St. Augustine. The teacher maintains a fall and spring garden. I remember snapping photographs of the kids plucking and tending to the garden. However, I have not gardened much since and have thought about the importance of an organic greenhouse for my K-8 school.

Ideally, I want the size of the greenhouse to accommodate approximately 20 students so students can work in there simultaneously.

The fruits and vegetables grown would be used in different ways: in the school's cafeteria (by putting them in salads, offering Ziploc bags with a small variety in line) and with the school's Cooking Club, which would meet once a month. Students would learn how to prepare one healthy treat or meal a month. Each grade group (K-2, 3-5, and 6-8) would focus on something different that is appropriate for them. On our website, we would have a "recipe book" so students could prepare the meals with their families at home.

We would start with simple tasks like making sandwiches and increase the challenge as the kids progressed.

Most importantly, having the students cook would review fractions and following directions in a more hands-on manner.

We would also offer healthier choices in our cafeteria as a result. We would try to prepare meals that are organic that have delectable fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, and gluten-free options. Ideally, I would love to maintain communication with a company like Whole Foods.

Next to the "adult kitchens" in the school would be student kitchens where students could cook with adult supervision. Whether kindergartners would be baking a few batches of cookies or eighth-graders would be preparing organic veggie pizza, they would always have an adult nearby. The student kitchen would not be that large, but it would have a separate area available for demonstrations.

I remember when I was in eighth grade and was a part of Family and Consumer Sciences (also known as Home Economics). Mrs. Sigler taught us how to prepare snickerdoodles, breakfasts, and various cultural dishes. It was a pivotal time in my life because I learned how to follow a recipe. I also felt validated and affirmed that I could at least (somewhat) prepare a dish.

I was recently reading an article titled "Is Home Economics Class Still Relevant?" It was written only a few months ago, and it is quite an interesting read because cooking is most certainly NOT a gender-specific job. The article covered how teaching kids nutrition is so important because there are so many "fast fixes" in today's society.

Know of other places (besides Ron Clark's school, which I found out just yesterday) that offer greenhouses for their students? I would love to see some links to schools around the nation and world following this model. Again, thanks for reading.

Links I Have So Far:

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