by Christine Kuhn, Youth Educator
It’s been a whirlwind of cooking, planting, harvesting, meditating, weeding, playing games, catching bugs, and picking berries in the education garden this summer! We have an amazing group of kids who come to the farm every Monday and Wednesday to work in the gardens and learn about food with us! Undoubtedly the favorite activity every day is cooking in the garden! The kids love getting to go out and harvest the crops they have worked so hard to grow and it is always a joy for me to see them try something new and to see their eyes light up when we break out the knives and cutting boards! Even the quietest kids break out of their shell when we set up the outdoor cooking station and even the pickiest eaters will try a bite of a funky looking vegetable if they get to help chop it up!
So far this summer, we’ve made: Sour Cream/Cheese Herb Dip, Chapati Bread, Salad with Homemade Lemon Vinaigrette, Pesto Pasta, Mulberry Popsicles, Spring Rolls, Taco Salad, Wild Rice Salad, and Collard Green Wraps! Not to mention we’re always snacking while we work and have polished off bowl-fulls of snap peas, cherries, mulberries, and even slurped up some of last year’s honey, straight from the comb!
Yesterday, while eating our Pesto Pasta, the kids kept calling themselves Super Chefs and got excited about the possibility of putting together a VGI Kid’s Garden Cookbook! We’re still makin’ plans for what this will look like, but for now, enjoy a recipe for the kids’ favorite garden salad!
Spring Garden Salad with Homemade Lemon Vinaigrette
- Mixed Greens (lettuce, kale, chard, arugula, spinach)
- Seasonal Veggies (snap peas, carrots, beets, radish, kohlrabi, cucumber, zucchini)
- Fruit (apple, strawberry, cherries, mulberries)
- Optional Mix-ins for more bulk (dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, hard-boiled eggs)
- 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- Honey to taste
- Salt to taste
First, you harvest your choice of greens from your garden. The kids really like a combo of lettuce, chard, and a touch of arugula. Be sure to wash the greens thoroughly. One of those spinning lettuce washing baskets are super fun for the kids to use and great for outdoor cooking!
You also must harvest and wash some seasonal veggies. Snap peas, carrots, and kohlrabi add a great crunch without an over-powering flavor. Simply wash the veggies with a scrub brush and then cut into slices. This is a great opportunity to work on basic knife skills and knife safety, as it doesn’t really matter what shape the veggies are in since it is just a salad and we don’t have to worry about cooking times or anything.
To make the salad dressing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice (may use fresh or pre-squeezed), and apple cider vinegar in a bowl using a whisk. Add honey in a teaspoon at a time until you reach a satisfactory balance between the sweet and sour. Add in a couple dashes of salt and voila!
One thing we really like to do with the kids is to customize all of our plates to make it just how we want it. So, we never mix up the whole salad. Instead, we’ll mix up the greens and dressing together and then place all the toppings in separate bowls for kids to choose. Other than the fresh veggies, we like to cut up a few fruits (apples and strawberries are the biggest hits!) and offer some pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, mint and/or hard-boiled eggs to make it a well-balanced, flavorful dish! And kids love getting to choose their own toppings for things! Just be sure to have someone on hand to portion toppings, or someone will dump all the cranberries into their bowl!