Friday, May 15, 2009

Kids Gardens

Children do better when they garden with a purpose. Here's a good group project for those with kids to entertain and educate this summer: a Pizza Garden, followed by a pizza party!

Use your imagination, but my Pizza Garden would grow:
  • green Bell pepper
  • jalapeƱo pepper
  • a determinant tomato, maybe a cherry
  • red onion
  • some garlic
  • thyme
  • oregano and
  • basil
A pizza garden can be grown in the ground or in containers. The ingredients are easy for kids to tend and later harvest. And it's a wonderful way to connect children and what they like to eat--pizza--with where it all comes from, the garden. All you need to finish this meal off is get a store bought pizza dough, some tomato or pizza sauce, cheese, and whatever other topping the children can't grow.

Instead of trying to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, I'd oven dry the tomatoes the day before the pizza party. Slice the tomatoes and place them on a cookie sheet cut side up. Season with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and some of the fresh thyme from the kids garden. Let rest one hour for the salt to draw out the liquid. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Bake (dry) the tomatoes for 5-6 hours. Then use the oven dried tomatoes like pepperoni slices on your Kids Pizza Garden Pizza. Tomatoes prepared like this are sweet and a bit chewy and kids love them.

Maybe finish up with an Ice Cream Garden:
  • strawberries
  • mint
  • chocolate mint
Or try a Taco Garden:
  • tomato
  • cilantro
  • onion
  • garlic
  • lettuce
  • peppers--both green and hot
In the winter, maybe a Pot Roast Garden would be in fun using root crops, or an Italian Dinner garden that included eggplant or an Asian-themed garden. You get the idea. The important point is to give children the skills they need to grow some simple foods and to help them make the connection that what is on their plate came from the ground and their hard work. If you come up with a Mac & Cheese Garden, let me know.

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