Childhood obesity is a huge problem in this country. We all know why this is so: if you ask elementary school kids to name their favorite snack, they'll most likely tell you it's something that comes in a plastic bag, low in nutritional value, loaded with chemicals, high fructose corn syrup and fat. If you ask where their favorite vegetable comes from, chances are they'll say, "from the grocery store." But something magical and truly awesome happens when take you kids to a vegetable garden behind their school. Suddenly they become less interested in those unhealthy packaged snacks and they are excited to see that the seeds they planted a few weeks ago have turned into something edible and delicious. I've seen this happen because I'm lucky enough to work for an organization that educates kids in school gardens, teaching them all about the importance of healthy rich soil, encourages them to eat their apples at lunch and compost the core, and to understand the life cycle of plants and the miracle that seeds produce things we can eat. I work for the Friends of Holly Hill Farm (FHHF), a non-profit education center based at Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset, MA that was established in 2002. Holly Hill Farm is a working certified organic vegetable farm. FHHF offers farm-based education programs where kids come to the farm for field trips, vacation and summer programs. We do programs for families and adults too - everything from compost "how to" to garlic planting workshops. We love to cook with kids at the farm and in the 18 school gardens we have helped to establish in 6 towns on the South Shore. These gardens are working outdoor classrooms. We've found that kids really love to eat vegetables they have helped to grow in the garden. We would like to expand our list of we can prepare with kids by doing some serious cooking! Salad parties are fun, but we really want to do more - sautéed chard and onions, carrot soup, garlic bread, kale chips. Why don't we use the school kitchen, you wonder? Well, sorry, rules are rules and kids are not allowed in the school kitchen (silly, huh?) So here's what we want to do, we want to build a mobile kitchen on the back of a trailer, hook it to a car and drive it to an area near the school garden and cook on site using produce harvested from the garden. We're hoping to change the way kids view food so they will see how delicious fresh vegetables can be and choose more healthy things to feed themselves and their families!
Funded by Boston, MA (February 2012)