By Judy Halterman  20150904_074229 (1280x720)

As the cold weather appr20150817_081331 (1280x720)oached the school garden at Yerington Elementary School, it was time to say good bye to the beautiful vegetable plants and winterize the garden. Over the course of the growing season, the garden produced around 525 pounds of fresh veggies that ended up on families tables that were in need, and also in the school cafeteria for the students to taste. The Kindergarteners and First Graders helped to plant the inside of the Hoop-House with green beans, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, swiss chard, potatoes, watermelon, and red onions. Several boys and girls came down from the Boys and Girls club, twice a week during the summer months to help out with more plumbing, planting, harvesting, and weeding in both the hoop-house and outside growing area. Outside20150902_092445 (1280x720)20150821_064257 (1280x720) the kids planted winter squash, corn, more green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, sunflowers that produced seeds, and of course, pumpkins. We even planted several pollinating wild flowers along the perimeter of the gardens to attract our bees.

Speaking of bees, we got to experience cross-pollination. There was a big zucchini-watermelon looking veggie/fruit. The bee had pollinated the watermelon, and then found its way to the zucchini, or so we thought! It turned out to be a pumpkin!!! The children and the extension office were in awe. The children learned where their food comes20150825_105322 (1280x720)20150904_074713_001 (1280x720) from by interacting in the school gardens. Some were very well educated before they came into the gardens by growing veggies with their families. It was refreshing to see these students explain things to their classmates. Yep, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!! Well…… maybe one thing! We had an intruder move into the hoop house underneath the tomato plants. Mr. Gopher was causing all kinds of tunnels to collapse! By the end of the growing season he had vanished!! Not sure what happened to him, and by the same token, didn’t ask! The students helped to harvest everything inside the hoop house. Next it was time to rototill and plant the fall ground cover crop to help enrich the soil for next year’s crops, and then close the doors for the winter.20151007_153656 (1280x720)20151105_125911 (1280x720)

By Judy Halterman and Joy Paterson

Veggies for Kids partnered with The Boys and Girls Club of Mason Valley to provide healthy eating educational activities to local youth

Judy teaches kids who enthusiastically join her activities

Judy teaches kids who enthusiastically join her activities

during a week long summer institute. Youngsters from 5 years old to 8th grade participated in the activities. Each day, of the 4 day institute, they were taught a different lesson on “Food from Plants” to help them understand where food comes from and about healthy eating choices. A total of 180 youth participated throughout the week.

The first lesson’s question was, “What parts of plants does food come from?” An interactive game had youth running to different stations that identified which parts of the plants that a particular fruit or vegetable came from. For example, Judy would yell “Pineapple” and the kids would select their answer by running to a station labeled “seed, root, stem, leaf, flower or fruit”. The kids would then learn the correct answer and why that pineapple was a fruit and that fruits are formed from the ovary part of a flower. After learning about plant parts, they went outside on a scavenger hunt looking for various parts of plants. The kids loved moving around and exploring familiar plants in new ways.

Day two focused on what plant parts are in common foods. “Do donuts come from plants?” All the kids originally said “NO”, but they learned  flour and sugar comes from plants. They tasted crackers, jelly, pickles, raisins, ketchup and pickles and learned what plants these foods came from and the course the food would take to make it to their plate in the form they were tasting. Do you know what the 4 most eaten foods in the world are? Youth learned they are: wheat, rice, corn and soybean. Discussions included how these foods are used in our everyday eating.

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Youth show the bunnies hiding in the grass, before eating their art

A boy arranges a peach on his plate to create his fruit and veggie masterpiece

A boy arranges a peach on his plate to create his fruit and veggie masterpiece

Cooking or combine things from plants into tasty dishes was the focus of the third day. They were given items from plants and allowed to create their own style of humus from scratch. They added their own spices, mashed the chickpeas and tasted on crackers to see if they liked what they made. While some were fine, most of them added too much salt or pepper. Fortunately, Judy had some tasty humus for the kids to eat.

Example garden map where youth could plan what they wanted to grow in their ideal garden

Example garden map where youth could plan what they wanted to grow in their ideal garden

The final day children designed their perfect garden. They studied what vegetables could be grown together and what vegetables should be grown apart. Youth created a garden map with different aspects of a garden with different sun exposure, soil fertility and other real-life challenges that gardeners face. The kids had a great time learning where plants would grow best. Art and science met in an hands-on activity creating food art. Food art activities engage the creativity of kids using fruits and vegetables to make a a bunny hiding in the grass. Is anything better than art you can eat?

Youth plants seeds into the window box they created

Youth plants seeds into the window box they created

Over the course of the summer institute, vegetable and herb window gardens were created by the kids using milk carton boxes, soil and  four different types of seeds. Youth learned about what plants need to be able to grow and designed the outside to with information about each plant. These were made out of 4 milk cartons taped together with white duct tape. They then designed the boxes using magic markers and crayons. The kids then planted spinach, mache (lettuce), and several types of herbs. They learned how to take care of their boxes once they were taken home. Visits to the school garden at Yerington Elementary School served as a real garden where participants picked green beans, tasted fresh-off-the-vine cherry tomatoes, and pulled weeds. Learning how the garden grows and where food we eat everyday comes from. The hoop house became a regular learning experience, with the club helping throughout the summer to collect produce, tend plants and pull weeds. Vegetables were then eaten fresh by the kids or cooked into delicious food at the club for all to try.

Veggies for Kids will continue to educate youth about fruits and vegetables throughout the school year. Special thanks to the Boys and Girls Club of Mason Valley and Darci Beaton for facilitating all weeks activity and help with the hoop house garden over the summer. For more information about the Veggies for Kids program, contact Judy Halterman.

 

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Judy with her class motto “Eat Smart, Play Hard, Drink Water…Not Soda”

By Judy Halterman and Joy Paterson

“Eat Smart, Play Hard, Drink Water, Not Soda” is a motto that most K and 1st graders who attended Yerington Elementary School or 2nd and 3rd graders at Smith Valley Elementary School last year know by heart. Veggies for Kids is a funded State of Nevada SNAP-ed program designed to teach kids about proper nutrition and exercise. Judy Halterman has been working with Yerington and Smith Valley youth teaching them how to grow and eat veggies and fruit using demonstration gardens, twelve weeks of in-school instruction and hosts a healthy lifestyle summer institute. Kids learn through direct instruction (lecture), food tastings, worksheets, games, problem solving, questioning techniques, and vegetable growing experiences.

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Judy picks her golden beets from the hoop house

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Veggies for Kids program was created and piloted by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in 2005 by Mineral County Cooperative Extension, and has been implemented at Hawthorne Elementary School and Schurz Elementary School in Mineral County, Natchez Elementary School in Washoe County, and Owyhee Elementary School in Elko County. Last year the program was expanded to include Smith Valley Elementary School and Yerington Elementary School in Lyon County.

Last years classes increased their ability to identify and name the five food groups and six vegetables. Kids learned the importance of playing hard for at least 60 minutes everyday to increase physical well-being. Drinking water to stay hydrated was emphasized with lessons comparing water to sugary drinks. Eating fun new fruits and vegetables was an exciting part, with kids declaring “What are we going to have for snack today Mrs. Halterman?” This led to an increased

Judy's garden favorite, red noodle beans

Judy’s garden favorite, red noodle beans

willingness to try and consume more fruits and vegetables. Vick Williams assisted Judy in educating the youth about Native American culture including food, building materials and clothing while using story-telling to engage them. The students were also able to sample buck berries, pine nuts, and asparagus.  Hispanic foods lesson was also incorporated with tasting of corn tortillas, beans and cheese. The program is anticipated to continue in the 2015-2016 school year for Yerington and Smith Valley Elementary Schools.