From Yuck to Yum

Yuck.  Kids love this word. Especially when it comes to describing how they feel about vegetables. So how do kids make that transition from yuck…to yum?  As a mother of a toddler that loves to shop for vegetables and even gets a kick out of serving salad to the masses, I am amazed that he doesn’t choose to eat them. I often wonder how we’re going to get some of that salad on his plate without hearing yuck. Enter the school garden.

My son is fortunate to attend a preschool that abuts our town’s community garden. The preschool itself has plots which provide the children with an opportunity to get involved in growing their own food. The littlest ones will water, plant seeds and watch the bugs, butterflies and birds with that amazing sense of wonder a child has when everything is new. Just the other day my son asked if the dragonfly on our screen door was his friend. That’s how they feel about the little things that we often pass over without a care. And that’s how they feel about their garden. There’s cool stuff there. The older ones take it a step further and run a small farm stand when the harvest is in so they can show off their accomplishments, practice their math skills and give parents something fresh to take home. Fresh veggies for under a dollar. You can’t beat that!

My son’s teacher Nick takes great pride in the garden and loves to get his sometimes hard to organize band of little helpers involved in all aspects of gardening. While the garden has a “cool” factor, it’s also a great teaching environment. Nick loves getting into the dirt, helping the kids pick out what they want to grow and then integrating the fresh foods into the school snack schedule. You may see grape tomatoes, zucchini bread or even salad on the table. He’s also no stranger to the word “yuck.” To help entice kids to try something he has the kids pick right off the plant to get the good snap of a fresh pea or green bean. He says it works! This year the kids decided to add strawberries and flowers to the garden. The older kids who have been part of the garden project for years like to mix it up a bit and have planted hot peppers. They want to have the teachers eat them and watch them run for cover. I give Nick credit–he doesn’t back down from a challenge. He’s definitely ready for the hot pepper smack down!

If I were a betting woman, I would bet that my little guy will try some of the veggies at school because he’s excited and proud of his accomplishments. Now will he bring this adventurous spirit to our dinner table? Only time will tell, but I’m really looking forward to hearing “yum” the next time mommy has the audacity to put something green on the plate.