Thursday, November 21, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
Last week I decided to stop in to one of my third grade class' Halloween parties to say hi and show off my decidedly silly costume: a Brussels sprouts stalk.
I talked to the kids, bounced around a bit in my brussels balloons, and eventually ended up talking to a student’s mom that had come in for the party. She wanted to tell me that her daughter has been raving about the garden class, telling her all about the new vegetables she has tried. "What was that one...? Kohl...something-or-other. She loved that one."
Kohlrabi. Of course.
The second lesson I taught each of my classes was an introduction to 'the chubby little alien' that is kohlrabi. Upon arriving in Red Lodge in late August I inherited a wonderful garden planted by the previous FoodCorps service member, Alyssa Charney, and the elementary school classes. At the time, the youth garden was flush with kohlrabi. I harvested the bounty of kohlrabi to bring into my classes, taking in a full plant along with some cut up samples for the kids to taste. I also drew up a coloring sheet to hand out to the students. The lesson introduced the vegetable, gave a quick rendition of the ever popular 'plant parts dance,' and then we tasted salted kohlrabi sticks together. Then the students got to work on decorating their kohlrabi drawing. Over the past two months I've learned a lot about the power of personality when promoting new veggies. That afternoon I made sure to give the kohlrabi a personality when I introduced it to the classes. I had my students give their kohlrabi unique personalities, too. I encouraged them to get wild with their drawings, color outside the lines, add arms, legs, give the vegetable a little attitude. They loved it. Their drawings, as you can see, are totally creative. At the end of the class, I even had a kid offer to buy the other kohlrabi from me. I was surprised when a month or so after this initial lesson, while playing a round of vegetable charades, that all the kids kept guessing kohlrabi. Every time. It must have really stuck.
I like to bring a healthy dose of silliness to my classes. If I talk about this strange looking plant like it's my friend, then maybe the kids will want to be friends with it too. I believe in silliness.. I like to draw silly vegetables with my students, play games, and even dress up like a vegetable every once in a while. Kids shouldn't feel intimidated by trying new things. If I have to be the first one to get goofy, then I am more than happy to do so.
Written by Emily Howe, FoodCorps service member in Red Lodge, MT.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Student reactions serve as a testimony to the deliciousness of these Montana-grown apples. At Meadowlark Elementary School, one student remarked: "WOW! This apple is from Montana? COOL!!" A student from Chief Joseph Middle School shared with his music teacher that it was the best day ever in orchestra because they got to play fun music and then eat a delicious apple. At Hyalite Elementary, many students told me that it was the most delicious apple they had ever eaten. And when we wrapped up the celebration by composting our apple cores, there was barely anything leftover to compost!
During the Hyalite Elementary all-school assembly, I stimulated minds with an apple trivia game and roused spirits by leading a Crunch Time cheer (dressed up in an apple costume generously loaned by MT Team Nutrition). If you closed your eyes during the cheer, you could have been at any sports game or rally with the energy in the air. But after the count down, right at 2:00 pm, there were no voices, only the sound of just over 500 students and teachers crunching into apples in perfect unison. I attached a video so that you can share the experience.
In our globalized food system, it is easy to be in the dark about where our food actually comes from. Although a small effort, Montana Crunch Time is one more step towards informing our Montana youth about the importance of eating fresh and locally grown food while supporting our Montana farmers. Hope to see you next year for our second annual Montana Crunch Time!
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
As the clock struck two on October 24, a collective crunch brought the state of Montana together to celebrate Food Day and National Farm to School Month. Biting into crisp Montana-grown apples, school kids across the state got yet another opportunity to taste healthy food grown close to home thanks to “Crunch Time.” The statewide event was the vision of many amazing organizations including the Montana Office of Public Instruction, Montana Team Nutrition, Eat Right Montana, and two of NCAT's Montana food programs – Farm to Cafeteria Network and FoodCorps Montana.
Out of sheer luck, during "Crunch Time," I had the privilege to actually be in Montana’s historic capitol building in Helena presenting to the governor-appointed Montana Commission on Community Service. Created in 1993 to promote and expand national service and volunteer opportunities in Montana, the Governor's Office of Community Service has been a key partner in the success of FoodCorps Montana. And the commissioners were more than happy for yet another opportunity to support good, local food for school kids across the state. We paused the agenda and passed out apples. As we counted down for our moment, I thought of how lucky we are to have so many leaders working together for a healthier future for Montana children. Our simultaneous “crrrunch” resonated high into the ceilings of the state capitol.
By Kirsten Gerbatsch, FoodCorps Montana Fellow