Getting the Kids Involved — Kathy Gunst and The Outdoor Classroom in South Berwick

An interview with local chef and author Kathy Gunst about d her work with the program Outdoor Class in South Berwick, from the Portland Press Herald:

Q&A with Kathy Gunst

Through the program (Outdoor Classroom), how do you work at helping kids appreciate the connection between their food and the people who produce it? What has the impact been? Was there a memorable result?

The whole point of the program is to teach kids that food grows from the ground up, not in the grocery store. We strive to teach the kids about the joys of healthy eating. For instance I made smoothies recently with the Pre-K and Kindergarteners using a variety of local fruit and some exotic fruits. We learned about the concept of locally grown food and why it’s better. And we learned that you don’t need sugar to eat something sweet and delicious. The kids were so into creating their own recipes for smoothies and seeing how sweet and delicious blended fruit and yogurt and fruit juice can be–without a speck of processed sugar.

The connection is obviously made when kids plant a seed in dirt and water it and watch it grow. They then harvest the food and I come into school and we cook it. The entire cycle happens by the kids doing the “work” and reaping the rewards. There is no more direct lesson than that!

What is on the horizon for the project? Goals for the future?

The future of this program is to grow more food, get more parents and teachers involved, and continue the good work that had been started these last few years. It’s been deeply rewarding to watch kids who think they “hate” certain fruits and vegetables and watch them turn on to the glories of good, freshly grown food. We have also slowly changed some of the food served in the cafeteria. The goal is to integrate the food grown in the hoop house with the food served in the cafeteria. This is more of a long-term goal and one everyone at the school seems open to and excited about.

What challenges did you face, if any, when you developed the program?

The challenge is always finding the funds and keeping the enthusiasm going. Although with teachers like Kate Smith and others there is no fear this program will die. Read more…

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