All over the country parents are struggling with the shared experience of trying to get their kids to eat healthy. It is not an uncommon sight to see youngsters turn up their noses at plates of leafy greens or steamed broccoli at the dinner table. This culinary defiance is even more frustrating when loving parents consider the huge impact proper nutrition has on their childrens' bodies and brains.
Spinach, for example, is arguably one of the most healthy foods on the planet. It is loaded with antioxidants, potassium, protein, iron, and vitamins K, A & C. Everything a kid needs to grow big, smart and strong and none of the sugar and fat. Unfortunately, many kids (and adults for that matter) would rather chose pizza and chicken nuggets over nutrient-dense dark leafy greens like spinach any day.
So, how do we encourage our children to eat their greens? Easy. Start growing. In my experience as the Sowing Seeds Coordinator here at Walking Mountains Science Center, I have witnessed first hand the power growing their own food has on a kid's food choices. Since starting teaching in school gardens, I know now that by connecting a child to their food source, they are far more likely to make healthy choices.
Let's take one student in particular who planted kale seeds in his school greenhouse and then spent several painstaking months watching his tiny seedlings grow into big bushy plants. Upon taking his very first bite of his very first kale leaf, wide-eyed he exclaimed, "WOW. This kale stuff is GOOD!" I am happy to report that this boy remains an enthusiastic kale-eater to this day.
More and more gardens are starting to pop up in schools around the country as their value is being realized. They are the perfect venue to teach a diverse array of academic study, in addition to obvious one of plant sciences. They also can serve as the mechanism in which to directly connect a kid to their food. Inspired by this connection, a new generation of kale-eaters are cropping up around the country, including right here in Eagle County.
The Sowing Seeds program at Walking Mountains Science Center introduces young students in Eagle County to the world of gardening, healthy eating and environmental stewardship. Stem by stem, leaf by leaf, hundreds of children have learned a valuable lesson: that time, patience, and constant care create amazing results. Click here to learn more about the program.
Formerly a Naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center in 2011, Shawna Wood recently rejoined the organization as the Sowing Seeds Coordinator. Working with elementary students to connect them directly with their food, she teaches an experiential garden-based learning program as part of the school day.