Bringing the garden into the classroom

As part of a new Mt. Diablo Unified School District garden education pilot program, Mt Diablo Elementary students are taking to the kitchen for cooking and nutrition lessons.

Students are learning how to balance their plates with a rainbow of whole foods from the garden. At the same time, they are learning basic cooking skills like recipe reading, using knives, measuring and mixing.

The program connects the food the students grow in the school garden to a lifestyle of eating healthier, whole foods. The students create and taste recipes to motivate them to eat more plants and fewer processed foods. In fact, the recipes students vote most popular may end up being served in the school cafeteria. And, the program may be replicated at other districts.

Healthy dishes like spinach and tofu salads were popular as the 4- and 5-year-olds made them and enjoyed them with their peers. Most recipes have a 75-100 percent approval rating.

This program has been a community effort, with “Lemon Lady” Anna Chan harvesting and collecting citrus for the recipes. Because of Chan’s efforts and the generosity of local residents, students enjoy the fresh seasonal fruit that would normally go to waste.

Led by garden educator Sheila Hill and parent Laney Cline King Ultimately, these cooking and nutrition classes should help students understand the benefit of growing and eating their own food. It’s not only fun, but a win for their health and the environment.

The Pioneer