Posts Tagged ‘garden’

“Fresh” Ideas about Food

April 19, 2010

This weekend, we planted a garden.  Few things make me happier than watching my kids digging in the dirt, planting things.  Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of farmers, or maybe it’s the sun-warmed, homegrown tomato I can almost taste just by thinking about it.

One of the most interesting books I’ve read recently is Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which follows four meals from field to table (from McDonald’s to foraging for mushrooms and hunting a wild boar.)  It reminds the reader how disconnected we have become from the sources of our food.  One of my favorite parts of the book talks about Joel Saletin, who is a seminal figure in the sustainable agriculture movement and probably the most famous farmer in America.  His bio on the FRESH movie website says: 

“Joel calls himself a grass-farmer, for it is the grass that transforms the sun into energy that his animals can then feed on. By closely observing nature, Joel created a rotational grazing system that not only allows the land to heal but also allows the animals to behave the way the were meant to – as in expressing their “chicken-ness” or “pig-ness”, as Joel would say.”

Joel Saletin

Ana Joanes

 

This week, Joel is in town with Ana Joanes, who has made a documentary called “FRESH” that celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system.  This afternoon, I was lucky enough to meet both Ana and Joel while volunteering at one of Joel’s lectures and was impressed with their optimism and sense of humor.  Ana recently told planetgreen.discovery.com “I just had a little girl. Her name is Maayan. And, as clichéd as it may sound, I just want to do right by her. I don’t know what reality she’ll face when she reaches adulthood, but I’m trying my best so she doesn’t have to pick up the pieces of our recklessness and inaction.”

 I’m looking forward to seeing FRESH this week in Minneapolis, where it will be shown Tues., Wed. and Thursday nights, with Ana in attendance for a Q and A following the screening.  I hear the movie is just 70 minutes long, but you will want to talk about it for two hours afterwards!  So,  if you’re in the Twin Cities, grab your girlfriends or your book club and go see it!  You can order tickets here

Supporting local, sustainable agriculture is a grass-roots movement toward healthier food and a better environment for our kids.  Who better to get it going than moms like us,who want to see a better future for our kids?  After all, we do most of the grocery shopping, so we have the power!  Get inspired to buy local and organic when you can and, by all means, plant a garden with your kids!

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Window Sprouts

April 30, 2009

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When I was growing up, we always had a vegetable garden.  My mom grew up on a farm and was appalled when my sister or I would throw a fit upon finding a tiny bug in our lovely, homegrown lettuce salad.  “Where do you think the lettuce came from?” she would ask, and we’d have to admit that it grew in dirt, outside, and that there are bugs out there.  It was an invaluable lesson and one I hope I can pass along to my kids.  Our world has become too sterile and disconnected from nature.  Like plants, we need dirt, sunshine, fresh air and clean water to survive.  Who cares about a few bugs?

 Today, I thought we’d get a jump on the gardening season by starting a few bean and pea sprouts in plastic bags.  It’s a perfect project for my three year old.  She’ll love to check them every day to see what’s happening, and when it’s warmer, we can transplant them to the garden!  I’m sure my older kids will plant sprouts of their own when they see their sister’s!

You’ll need a few plastic zip-lock bags, dry beans from your pantry (or peas and beans from the garden seed packs you can find almost anywhere ), paper towels and water.  Cut a paper towel so that you can fold it a few times and it will fit into the zip-lock baggie.  Have your child soak it with water and help them put it into the bag so that it’s relatively flat.  Then, give them two beans or seeds to place in the bag, near the bottom.  I had to stuff a little piece of paper towel into the bottom of the bags so that the seeds wouldn’t sit in the extra water at the bottom.  Let your child help seal the bag.  Leave an opening near the top so the plants can get some air.  Finally, tape the bag in a window with the beans facing you so that your child can watch them as they grow.  (I’d recommend finding a window where they won’t get blasted by hot sun all day, or they might fry.)

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As you do the project, ask your child what they think plants need to grow  (Plants need light, air, water and nutrients, or “food.”)  Ask them how they think the seed can grow without the dirt as “food.”  Tell them that when a plant first sprouts, it gets its nutrients from the seed itself.  They can watch the seed shrink as the plant grows.  Have them draw the seed/plant in their science notebook as it changes.  Older kids can measure the plants as they grow.  Eventually, you should be able to transplant them to a cup with dirt, or directly into a garden.  You may have to add water to the paper towels if they dry out.  Play it by ear. 

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Go ahead!  Plant a garden this spring, even a very tiny one in pots!  Let your kids get their hands in the dirt.  Help them nurture plants that will eventually nurture them. (Children are much more interested in tasting vegetables that they’ve grown themselves. ) It is one of the most rewarding activities you can do with your children, and takes only dirt, seeds and water!  Find your inner farmer and let your children find theirs- organic food is cheap when you grow it yourself!