La Vida Local is a feature aimed at connecting you with some of the best foods and goods within Vancouver while raising awareness of how buying local benefits everyone involved. When you buy local, you’re not just supporting these individuals but helping to grow and sustain the local community.
For the next few months, I’m volunteering with Growing Chefs in their Classroom and Gardening Program. During this time, I’m in a team with a few food and gardening aficionados and we teach our primary grade classroom we’re paired up with about growing food, where it comes from, and making healthy choices.
I was first introduced to the non-profit organization Growing Chefs last year when I participated in the Local Food Challenge, which I covered on VIA. I’m a huge fan of the wonderful work they’re doing in which they educate children, families, and community members about healthy eating and healthy food systems. I’m all about that! As a child and into adolescence, I had eating habits that stretched the spectrum of excess to deprivation, and I strongly believe if I was educated more about whole foods and its numerous benefits for the body, I would have been a lot smarter about the way I ate.
Thankfully I’ve come a long way and have become passionate about sharing delicious, healthy, and local food. I signed up to be a part of the Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program in which volunteers are put into teams of three or four and are paired with an elementary school class over the course of three and a half months. During that time, my team will be visiting our Grade 2 class and planting an indoor garden with them and teaching them about gardening, composting, and finally cooking a delicious meal at the end with the vegetables they’ve grown. I’m delighted to be sharing this whole experience with all of you.
Our first lesson was on Monday where we introduced ourselves to the kids and the concept of gardening. We had a brainstorm session about what gardens consist of, what they need to grow, etc. And honestly, the kids blew me away with how much they already knew. Shout out to the parents of the girl who told me her family made pizza and topped it off with arugula over the weekend. I didn’t discover that combo until I was a grown woman and I hated I missed out on it for so many years.
We took it a step further and tested their knowledge by having them guess what seeds were associated with which vegetables.
To be honest, I didn’t even know what lettuce seeds looked like so I was just as surprised as the children. Next, we brought up kids in small groups to begin planting the official indoor garden while they began drawing what their own garden would look like. Carrots were common as well as the superpower of rainbows in the sky to help the gardens grow.
In all, we planted lettuce, beets, snap peas, and an assortment of greens which the kids will tend to while we’re away. When we make our visits, we’ll check in on the progress of the veggies, eventually transplant them, and engage the children with activities leading up to when the vegetables are ready to cook! I’m not an expert gardener by any means, so I’m looking forward to taking in this whole experience with the kids and also learning from them.
Stay tuned next week for my recap of Lesson 2!