Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Joy of Harvesting

Before my cohort came to the preschool house, the preschoolers spent a significant amount of time planting in their garden beds. This included the wonderful annual planting party. The candy garden, designed and cared for solely by the preschoolers, can be seen pictured in this blog. Obviously, my cohort was stoked to be joining their preschool friends in their pursuit of gardening- especially since most of their garden is now ready to harvest. This means one of our favorite things: eating.
We've been bringing our tradition of cooking together to the preschool house. I wanted to continue on this vein and build further on the harvesting that we often do with the children. A small group of children chose to delay their outside time a bit and stay inside with me to help clean up from snack and prepare our lunch. After we had completed the responsibilities of washing our dishes, cleaning off our tables, and sweeping our floor we sat down together and talked about lunch.
I told LC, JK, TB, and TS that we would be having beets at afternoon snack. We also needed to collect some kale and other greens for lunch. We talked about how to tell if a beet is ready to be harvested. TB offered: "You might see the beet poking out in the dirt. It won't be a seed anymore." TS chimed in, "Yeah, and our beets are purple! They aren't yellow."

Armed with this knowledge of beets and what to look for, we headed outside. Everyone helped in the collecting of beets. Sometimes we pulled a beet up to find that it wasn't as big as we had hoped. Other times, we pulled out a beet and marveled at just how big it had gotten! Picking the kale was much easier as we could just look at the leaf to see if it was ready or not. Once we had collected a tub full of greens and beets we headed back inside. Our next job was to clean them. Since it can be difficult to put many people at our sink we decided to get a bowl of water and some rags to help scrub our beets clean. At this point, only TS and TB remained interested in cleaning them. JK and LC enjoyed playing and coming by every so often to carefully watch what the girls were doing. LC was especially excited about the bowl of water that was getting increasingly dirtier each time she wandered by.
After a lot of work we were ready to cut up our beets and place our greens on a pan to roast. I cut each clean beet up with a knife on a cutting board and let whoever was interested observe. TB decided that we should cut them into "bite size" pieces so they were easy for everyone to eat at snack. TS agreed. LC and JK were curious as to why they couldn't just eat the beets now, but easily settled for a bit of kale instead. I'm looking forward to continuing to harvest and cook with the children throughout the summer. There's something so satisfying about getting to eat something you've worked hard to nourish, grow, and prep for eating!

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