The media buzz around chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution series has many parents re-thinking their kids’ food choices. That’s certainly the case here in Central Texas, and this shift coincides with a rise in the number of farmers’ markets. With the support of our local market’s manager, I created a workshop designed to link children with local food and lore.
The event is easy to modify and replicate.
Sunflowers are great for attracting pollinators, and the seeds are edible. (Image copyright: Pamela Price)
Here’s an overview:
Event title: Come & GROW! Workshop
Marketing: Thanks to a local elementary school principal, flyers advertising the event were sent home with hundreds of school children. We also used social media and distributed flyers to area businesses.
Length: 1 hour
Activities: We began the hour reading a copy of Farmers Market by Carmen Parks. We selected this book, which features a young girl who sells items at a market, because program participants included vendors’ kids and grandkids. Participants were asked to talk about their market experiences to date and newcomers were encouraged to discuss their expectations.
Next we read Lois Ehlert’s Growing Vegetable Soup. One of the plant vendors then brought to the group small bags filled with various seeds and a few herb, vegetable and flower starts. The children were amazed at how tiny the carrot seeds were!
We’re lucky to have the Dinner Garden‘s HQ in San Antonio. Representatives demonstrated how to make newspaper pots using a tomato paste can. The kids were invited to draw on the paper as they waited for help making the pots. Once ready, the pots were filled with soil and given vegetable seeds to plant.
Workshop handouts need not be fancy or complicated, and white space leaves room for creativity. (Image credit: Pamela Price)
Finally, the students were given two flyers. One was a newsletter that included facts about the market, information on “food security” and how children could donate food to the local food bank, and the importance of sunflowers in attracting honeybees. Another sheet featured a short story about early area settlers and invited children to tour the market with their parents and guess at what early settlers might have grown in their gardens in the 1800s. Children who completed a grid on the back of the flyer (similar to a bingo grid) and returned it to the facilitators received tiny sunflower stickers.
We were also fortunate to have our local food bank’s nutrition team come out and demonstrate how to grill seasonal fruits, in this case peaches. Topping it off was the fact that a local independent news crew came out to live stream the activities (clip).
All in all, we were pleased with the event and hope to repeat it at least four times each year, tailoring content to fit the seasons. If you don’t have a market in place, you could work with a local nursery or perhaps arrange a farm tour.