Hands-on lesson on sustainability
July 16, 2007 (WLS) -- Sustainability is a big word even for adults. But children as young as two are getting a true green-thumb experience at the city's new "Edible Gardens."
For children who have never seen actual peapods on a vine or broccoli before they hit the grocery store, this is one tasty experience. The Green City Market's "Edible Gardens" is the newest addition to Lincoln Park Zoo's Farm- in- the- Zoo.
"The purpose is to involve kids in a hands on growing experience so they can learn where the food comes from," said Jeanne Pinsolf Nolan, Edible Garden coordinator.
Pinsof Nolan has been gardening pretty much all her life. Now she's engaging young children and their families in real life lessons on growing, weeding, compost making, and harvesting.
"More and more, so many children are alienated from nature, from the source of their food. We know the issues of childhood obesity and diabetes that are running rampant, and so much of the answer is in connecting children back to the earth showing them where their food comes from and helping them make better eating choices," said Pinsolf Nolan.
Leah Jones, 5, is visiting with her mom for the first time. "I like vegetables because they're really good," said Jones.
"It's great," said Carroyl Jones. "I love it"
Inside the 5,000 square-foot garden, visiting children get to do just about everything in tending to a real garden. Today is harvest time for onions, peas, broccoli, and a not-so well known vegetable called kohlrabi.
"You eat the ball," explains Pinsolf Nolan. "Stir fry it. (It's) crunchy, broccoli tasting."
Before the visit is over, children also learn about recycling. Here, lunch waste is brought in from the zoo's day camp program -- apple cores, banana peels -- all of it turned into compost for the garden. The goal in the end is simply for children to walk away with a better appreciation for nature.
"Teaching children where their food comes from prepares them to be adults who will take care of the earth," said Pinsolf Nolan.
About The Edible Gardens
The edible gardens are part of the Green City Market's program to help educate Chicagoans on the importance of sustainable foods. Market volunteers will also lead tasting sessions. On Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., beginning June 16 and continuing through October 13, kids visiting the Edible Gardens will be able to harvest fresh produce for tasting straight from the vine with minimal preparation. For example, in July, children can harvest strawberries, broccoli, cucumbers, beets, carrots, greens, herbs, cabbage and cauliflower. In August, the bounty will include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, turnips, edamame, sweet corn, sunflower seeds and carrots.
Since the inception three years ago, the Green City market Edible Gardens have served as an influential resource with a carefully constructed growing curriculum. To schedule a field trip, call Jeanne pinsof Nolan at 847-636-2720.
Green City Market is located across the street from the Edible Gardens and is open form 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, May 16 through October 31. Parking is available. Cooking demonstrations by top Chicago-area chefs are each Market day at 10:30 a.m.. Chicago's best chefs shop the Market each Wednesday. For more information, call 847-424-2486 or visit Green City Market online at chicagogreencitymarket.org.
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