After waiting all summer for their plants to grow, kids from McLeod gathered their crops from the community garden Oct. 7.
In partnership with Seniors Connected, Mrs. Nemethy’s grade-three English class and Mme. Stier’s grade-four french class, helped gather and store all the vegetables planted by McLeod kids at the beginning of the summer. They spent half the day plucking tomatoes and potatoes, gathering cabbage and spinach and pulling carrots and beans. Volunteers helped with short demonstrations on using every part of the plant, how to handle certain vegetables and what to compost. Kids had fun pulling and sorting and were shown that even the tops of carrots have a purpose.
Two designated compost boys had fun going back and forth to an outside pile helping rid the scene of unwanted materials.
“It wasn’t gross because it was still fresh,” said Nicholas 9, a compost boy. “Composting isn’t that bad. I’m gonna start a garden after we mow all the weeds in my backyard.”
The second half of the day, after all the vegetables were gathered, Michelle Roberge, the growing and storage co-ordinator, brought everything to the Senior Friendship Centre to be prepared.
The children worked with seniors to preserve, compost, dry, can and freeze the vegetables to be used for hot lunches at the school throughout the winter.
“They helped prepare enough tomatoes and spinach to get through the year, tons of cabbage that can be used for soups and sauces and about 100 pounds of carrots,” said Ms. Roberge.
Health and sanitation was also shown to the kids prior to handling the food. Adults took charge of the cutting stations while the kids circulated. Cala 7, says her favourite part was the potatoes.
“I like peeling the skin off potatoes and then stuffing them in jars,” said Cala with a smile. The seniors also showed the kids different tomato preserving techniques including slicing, canning and freezing. “It was such a great way to teach and share knowledge intergenerationally between youth and seniors,” said Ms. Roberge. “With the idea being to have more locally grown options, the kids will now be eating fresh carrots for months to come.”
At the end of the day, each child got to carry a big bag of preserved vegetables back to school and received a seed package for themselves to plant at home.
“We learned how to plant stuff, pull stuff, wash stuff, but my favourite part was getting the seeds out of the marigolds so we can plant more next year,” said Sophia 7.