Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sprouting Young Farmers at the Seattle Community Farm

A New Idea
At the end of the summer, we tried out a new idea – what would happen if we hosted informal farm classes for kids from the Rainier Vista neighborhood? The kids who live in the houses adjacent to the Seattle Community Farm frequently visit and want to help out, learn, and explore. The farm is for them, so we decided to plan some kid-friendly garden activities and invite them to come on over.

The First Class
Though we posted fliers and planned two classes for the last week of August, we weren't sure whether anyone would show up. But we had nine kids come to the first class, ranging in age from 4 to 12!

With that wide of an age span, we kept our activities simple – a farm tour (playing 'Guess The Vegetable'), planting bok choy starts, and watering. Then it was on to cooking!

We harvested beans, tomatoes, chard, and basil. With garlic leftover from the spring and olive oil, we made a basic tomato sauce, and served it over sautéed green beans. Though it wasn't a hit with every student, each one of them tried it and many liked it. Moreover, each kid participated in the cooking process - plucking a tomato or a bean from the vine, harvesting a leaf of chard, and tearing or chopping a vegetable for the sauce.

The Second Class
For our next class, five students returned, and we welcomed a few new faces. After watering our recently-planted bok choy starts, we dug into the worm bins.

Worm bin maintenance is an ongoing task that also seems to be almost endlessly entertaining to children of all ages. We spent the time tearing newspaper, adding it to the bins, mixing it in, and looking at all the cool critters that live in the worm bins. Our students had so much to say about worms and soil that we couldn't get a word in edgewise.

Amazing Rainier Vista mom and educator Mimi was back as well, with freshly made bread and a new recipe for us to try:
Vegetable Cookies
  • 1 beet, 2 carrots, and 1 small zucchini, all grated
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of flour
  • some chives, chopped
  • a couple sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything together in a big bowl. Have students form batter into patties, and then pan fry in a little bit of oil, about 3 minutes on each side. Eat alone or with bread.

Tuyetlam and Tran, 
at the entrance to the Children's Garden

A Success! 
After the second class, I received an e-mail from the mother of seven-year-old Tuyetlam, one of our students. This is what Tran wrote:
“My daughter attended your classes last week and she really likes it. Thank you very much for providing this kind of opportunity to the kids. After your sections, she was willing to eat vegetables for a day or two. She wants to attend the farmer classes.”
Tran and Tuyetlam have been back to the Seattle Community Farm several times, for both our adult cooking class and for work parties. Tuyetlam is an enthusiastic worker, teacher, and learner, who hopes to have her own farm someday. We're so glad that they are both a part of our farm community! 

We hope to replicate our kids' drop-in classes next summer, and children are always welcome to help out on harvest days and at work parties, which continue through November. 

~Leah, summer outreach and education coordinator at the Seattle Community Farm

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