“These are the best carrots in the whole world!”
“No they aren’t. The best carrots ever grow here in Boulder!”
This debate between two 5thgrade boys on which carrots were tastier: their morning snack of carrots from Western Montana Grower’s Cooperative or local Boulder Elementary School garden carrots was one in which I was happy to hear. And, after all, the best carrots in the world must come from Montana, right?
Students at Boulder elementary are lucky enough to still enjoy some local produce for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, even with winter quickly approaching. Earlier in November they munched on honey crisp apples from Western Montana Growers Cooperative and in the last week were able to enjoy fresh Bolero carrots from Gallatin Grown in Manhattan, MT.
Although the school garden is no longer in full production, students still have a blast cleaning out the beds and playing in the dirt. Even with the onset of cold weather, we still have lettuce popping up in outside raised beds and inside our greenhouse. With some new cold frames just arriving, Rochelle, my supervisor, and I are excited to experiment with them in various spots in the garden and greenhouse. And I can’t wait to bring out my 1st and 4th grade classes to experiment with planting some cold hardy plants! Meanwhile, 21stCentury Program students still munch on frozen garden cabbage or anything mildly green colored that clings to life in the school garden.
One of my favorite quotes in recent memory: “Miss Camille! We are playing that we are making a healthy meal and we have to pick all of these veggies and eat it! See!” A first grader then proceeded to take a huge bite of one of the last surviving cabbages in the garden.
Besides cleaning out the garden (both by eating and digging), 1st, 4th, and 7thgraders have been busy the last couple of months learning about nutrition. Fourth graders conducted a “Taste a Rainbow of Healthy Foods” taste test during the parent open house in October, using local broccoli, local apples for apple chips, freshly squeezed lemonade, blueberries, and pumpkin seeds. Also, as part of a lesson focused on whole vs. processed foods, the fourth grade class conducted an experiment on the effect that sugar and acid in soda can have on teeth. The results: after a week submerged in a container of Coke and Diet Coke, the hardboiled egg shells became stained and weakened. And contrary to our initial hypothesis, the Diet Coke stained the shells more than the regular Coke! I think these students will think twice before reaching for a pop next time!
With the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program running smoothly, I am looking forward to working closely with the principal and food service manager to help Boulder meet the criteria to win a Healthier US School Challenge award. Also, thanks to our Big Sky Fit Kids Grant, I’m excited to begin collaborating with fitness and health professionals in the surrounding area to provide new and exciting fitness and nutrition opportunities for the kids throughout the winter months. My schedule as a FoodCorps Service Member keeps filling up, and I love it!