In 2009, WVEC did a segment on Healthy Virginian's Week and our theme was farm to school. We served local red potatoes and eggplant - yes, eggplant - from a farm right here in Williamsburg. Here's the clip.
The farmer came in to the kindergarten class and showed a whole potato plant in a bucket, with the potatoes exploding off the roots. Yes, some of the kiddos did not know potatoes grew under ground.
At lunch one day, I wheeled around a cart of whole eggplants, both white and purple, to pass around and let students feel them, cut eggplant slices to let them see the inside, and then we served roasted eggplant slices to let them taste them. There are so many age appropriate SOL connected lessons from one vegetable - color and shape, plant parts, adjectives, healthy eating.
We washed, sliced, salted and rinsed (to remove bitterness), dried, panned, sprayed (with cooking spray), and dusted (with Parmesan cheese) hundreds of eggplant slices. Then, we roasted them quickly in the convection oven. Spaghetti sauce was provided for dipping (because kids love to dip!) and guess what - they liked it! More importantly, they tried it. It's all about creating a willingness to try and an enthusiasm for new foods.
Yes, this was a ton of extra work for our dear lunch ladies. But talk about willingness and enthusiasm - that is them in 2 words or less.
Four years later, we are still growing our farm to school program (pun intended!) and maximizing experiences for students.