Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Harvest: Kid Edition

It's blackberry season!  Our new house is right on the Shoreline Interurban trail, aka the blackberry farm, so we have our own personal blackberry patch that we have access to out our back gate.  It's pretty sweet.  So we picked some and made something special.  I'll tell you about it later.

This week I had a little help with the harvest from my little 4-year-old friend next door.  She and her brothers are always pretty bored and loiter in their front yard, looking for someone or something to play with.  Oftentimes that someone is Shawn or me.  They always say hi to us, and on some weekends, will ask of they can come over.  They really like helping us in the yard and were heavily involved in the construction of the chicken coop, as well as the setup of the garden beds.  They can be kind of annoying, but considering we have made or are making a living off of working with children, having them around is kinda normal for us.

Since they helped with the planting of much of my garden, it is only fitting to allow them to help with the harvest.

But first let me tell you a bit about these kids.  I don't think they have very good eating habits, as evidenced by their being rather overweight.  I won't go into speculating why this is, but being from a low income family would be my first guess.  When we were planting the garden, they had no idea what a zucchini was.  They also claimed that they had never eaten a raspberry before, when we let them have some from our sad little patch.  They don't recognize green tomatoes as tomatoes, and can't identify cucumbers, green beans, or lettuce.

As urban living gets more and more distanced from farms and where our food comes from, children are having a harder time understanding that food is grown in the ground and comes off of plants.  I remember one student a few years back say this: "Mom!  That person pulled a plant out of the ground and there was a CARROT attached to it!" Couple this with the high prices of fresh produce and you get kids like our neighbors.  Sad, but true.

When we moved into our house several months ago and we were first introduced to our new little friends, the environmental educator in me couldn't help but decide to take these youngsters under my wing and teach them a thing or two about food: where it comes from, how it gets to us, and how yummy the fresh stuff is.

So having the little girl over today as I planted some strawberries and blueberry bushes and picked this week's harvest was exactly in line with my secret goal.  First, I let her pull a bunch of the purple green beans.  I was surprised at how little she reacted to the color, and instantly took a bite of one when I encouraged her to.  At first I thought she didn't like it because she made a little face when she said "it's good" (with some hesitation,) but then gobbled up a whole handful with gusto.  Next we picked some cucumbers.  I ripped one apart and took a bite out of one half to show her it was safe and she finished off the other half.  I asked her which she liked better, the purple beans or the cucumber, and the cuke won that round.  I then topped the taste test off with a chocolate zucchini muffin which, naturally, she snarfed with no hesitation.

Her brother came over a bit later and was not enthused about the idea of eating a purple green bean, but I expected that since he's got a bit more attitude.  I think I'll focus my energy on one child for now, since today was such a success.

I have always gardened for me.  It's my therapy, and a great fun way to get some exercise and eat right.  But for the first time, my garden became something that benefited someone else.  Now who knows how much of our time spent together today will have an impact on my little friend.  It might be just a speck in her imaginative day to day life.  But I like to think that there is a small chance that it could become something more, something big.  And that little chance is worth every second and every purple green bean donated to a good cause.

So go outside and plant a garden, if not for you, but for a small little friend.  It might make a big impact.

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