The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 16, 2014

Children enjoy gardening and greens

FAIRFIELD — There are a lot of unique features about the kids at Agapeland Preschool and Child Care, starting with the fact they have successfully planted their own vegetables and fruits in a hay garden. Yet what's more surprising is that these kids find green vegetables tasty.

Director Cherie Cecil explained how important it is for children to know that food doesn't just come from the grocery store.

"When they pick it themselves, they are more apt to try it," said Cecil. "When they are able to see where it comes from and the all the colors and species, they really enjoy that."

The 5- and 6-year-old class spent Wednesday morning out in the garden harvesting vegetables that were ripe enough for the class to enjoy. Cecil allowed the 11 kids to pick some peas and eat them right out of the pod as they worked, or if they were brave enough, they were able to chomp on the pod itself. The kids excitedly broke the casing open and instantly began to rave about the snack.

Although it may sound like the host of a Food Network television show said "Peas are packed with flavor," it actually came from the mouth of Archer Kreuter, a member of the class, in between bites.

The idea was planted when Jan Swinton, the local food coordinator for the Fairfield Farm to School Research Greenhouse, asked Cecil if the kids could come tour the greenhouse. Due to bus costs, the day care students were unable to go see the towering tomato plants or heads of fresh lettuce. That's when the Fairfield Master Gardeners came to Agapeland and gave them their own garden. The 4- and 5-year-old students were able to wrap the seeds in paper towels and bury them in the ground.

"The kids actually planted the seeds before the gardeners began fertilizing and put in the water system," explained Cecil, "Once they started to grow, the kids would get excited when we would go out and look at the progress," said Cecil.

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