FoodPrints Sweet Potato Harvest 2011

This has been an exciting fall for the FoodPrints Program, housed at Watkins Elementary School. Our new Food Lab was completed in October and is now a bright, welcoming working kitchen and classroom space that beautifully accommodates the 15 first, third and fourth grade classes that participate in the program.

Over the last month, each grade level has been working hard. Each first grade class adopted a butternut squash in the garden and spent time every few weeks observing changes in their adopted squash and measuring its growth. They harvested their squash this month and enjoyed eating them! Our first graders have also been using the vegetable garden to practice their observational drawing skills and have helped us get in a fall crop of collard greens that will produce an early spring harvest. Finally they harvested a bumper crop of kale, which they enjoyed with garlic and lemon over brown rice.

Our third graders started their year learning about nutrition by reading and interpreting the ingredient lists on boxes and bags of food. They discovered that most of the snack foods and cereals we eat are made from the same ingredients: white flour, sugar and corn syrup, salt, soybean and palm oil. They compared these less nutritious ingredients to those in our recipe for broccoli with whole wheat pasta. They then harvested broccoli and peppers from the school garden to use as ingredients to make a healthy snack. They thoroughly enjoyed this tasty treat and took home the recipe to share with their families.

Additionally, our 3rd graders had a very successful sweet potato harvest last week – digging up over 60 pounds of sweet potatoes from the starts that were planted by their predecessors last spring!

Our fourth graders have been learning about the important Native American food crops found in this area. We studied the three sisters (squash, beans and corn) and made models of these plants to help them understand why these crops were planted together and how they helped each other grow. They harvested heirloom dry beans and squash from the garden then used them to prepare a Three Sisters Meal of cornbread, roasted butternut squash with fresh herbs and boiled beans. We are looking forward to learning more about the native foods of the Americas with them during December.

~ Jennifer Mampara, FoodPrints Coordinator

Above: Watkins Elementary School student harvesting a sweet potato in the school's organic garden.
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