The Garden Goodies 4H garden is growing at the Hillsborough County Extension Service office. The first student to arrive last week went straight out to see how the garden was doing. Her shout, “There ‘s a green pepper!” was echoed as the others arrived. They were astonished to see the growing tomatoes, the squash that had appeared tucked under the large leaves, and the length of the watermelon vine. Lynn Barber, Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Agent, showed them how to harvest the radishes and collard greens, but suggested that they leave the green peppers, squash and tomatoes to grow another week.
At the previous meeting, under the guidance of Mary Keith, Ph.D., Food, Nutrition & Health Agent, the students learned about the connection of taste to smell. She had each hold his/her nose while tasting each vegetable and then each tasted the vegetables again without holding his/her nose. The students realized that there was a stronger flavor when they were using both taste and smell. This week, she had the students smell various seeds, then grind and smell the ground seeds to observe the heightened odor. She explained that difference cultures use different seasonings, and that sometimes the seasonings came from roots, stems, leaves, and also seeds.
Mary shared a Zimbabwe Green recipe with the students but said that Mexicans use the same vegetables cooked the same way. The Zimbabwe recipe included a peanut butter sauce and the Mexican recipe called for fried chili peppers. The students sliced tomatoes, onions, garlic and collard greens. Lynn helped some students to simmer the vegetables in a tablespoon of oil, while others mixed the peanut butter sauce.
The students also diced vegetables for a salad that included the radishes from the garden. Not all of the students had tried a radish before and they didn’t all like the sharp taste.
Next week they will make a vegetarian pizza with vegetables from the garden.
These activities should be in the programs of our schools. The students are learning how to grow and care for plants, how to cook, and the basics of nutrition. Shouldn’t all students (and adults) learn the same things?