NEWSFLASH: Food Comes From Gardens
If you’re living and breathing you’ve probably noticed there has been a groundswell of interest in gardening lately. You yourself probably garden. And in a fabulous turn of events, little schoolyard gardens are popping up all over the country. Most people agree it is wonderful to expose our youngsters to the joys, responsibilities and occasional heartbreaks of gardening. You plant seeds, water them, watch them grow, weed the beds and come fall, you what? Harvest them, yeah. But as Monica Eng tells us in her great Chicago Tribune story, if your youngster lives in Chicago, he or she will not be eating them.
Curious, isn’t it?
Yup, turns out the muckety-mucks in charge of the world are not so comfortable with kids eating from these school gardens. And rather than work to have these gardens meet “specific/certified growing practices” (whatever that may mean to the lawyers and such), the decision is just to forbid kids from eating their hard-earned food. Yup, better to just keep giving them that highly processed stuff instead. Wouldn’t want them to swell with pride at the idea of eating a tomato they’ve grown. Wouldn’t want them to maybe try eating something they haven’t had before. Nope, can’t have that.
I can only speak for myself, but it turns out I had two little visitors in our March 3 garden this past weekend. They’re good friends of mine – they call me Uncle Grant – and in truth, they are pretty good eaters in general. But of course there are things they haven’t tried or don’t think they like. James for example had never tasted fennel and was pretty down on tomatoes. Please pardon my cell-phone pictures, but I think they illustrate how I feel right now about kids in gardens. James was willing to taste fennel and a black cherry tomato. They may not be his new favorite food, but his horizons are expanding. I’m not sure, but I think that’s what’s supposed to happen at schools.
I was so proud of my little friends that day. They tried new things, they held chickens, they raked out the chicken coop of their own accord: “I’m doing it for the chickens!” They left with fresh eggs, chicken poop on their shoes and dirt under their fingernails. It warms my heart to see a valuable afternoon like that unfold. I am humbly grateful that I have the March 3 garden at my disposal to share. And I am glad to say we ate from the garden that day because that’s what gardens are for!