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July 27, 2015

What Can I Eat?

Along with summer comes summer camp here at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. Once a week I get kids from the first through sixth grade for an hour of garden activities.  It takes some time to figure out what I should do with this diverse crowd in the garden. The older kids like games while the younger kids like touching, tasting and generally making a fun mess. I’m wary of letting the younger ones pick veggies since they tend to stray off paths and pull half a plant up. I have to be conscious with the older ones because they’ve started forming clusters and don’t willingly leave their friend group. So the goal of a kids’ gardening class: let kids explore healthy eating, gardening and science while keeping plants whole and monitoring the emotions and actions of potentially warring factions.  Sure, super easy. After a couple years, I’ve established a criteria for what happily occupies kids in the garden. The criterion follows:

For lower grades:
  •        Dirty is better. Paint, mud, markers are great. Spilling everything onto unprotected surfaces? Even better.
  •        Have edible things on hand. Younger kids generally have one question for me “WHAT CAN I EAT?”

For higher grades:
  •        Competitive games are the best. Does it involve running, accidentally smacking into each other and the glory of winning? They are all about it.
  •        Feeding the fish. These kids like responsibility and being a part of the process. Give them some fish food and away they go (applicable to other things involving responsibility).

All kids: Eating strawberries! When all else fails, direct them to the strawberry patch. Jokes aside, it’s a joy having youth in the garden and showing them plants or foods they have never seen or eaten.  Kids get so excited in a way that you rarely see in adults and they remind me how the garden and all the living things inside of it are magical and exciting!

Submitted by: Kate Wilkins, Garden Coordinator