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Hands-On Program Gets Students To Love Their Broccoli

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After eight weeks of learning about plants and produce, students get to taste the "fruits" of their labors.
Rebecca Sheir
After eight weeks of learning about plants and produce, students get to taste the "fruits" of their labors.

By Rebecca Sheir

This week marks the one-year anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama's White House kitchen garden. But nearly four decades before Mrs. Obama began her push for healthy eating, organic gardening and environmental literacy for children, a group in Washington was doing just that.

If you have a young child, the following might sound like music to your ears.

"Give me some claps if you ate all your broccoli!"

Those are the claps of third graders at the Trinidad campus of Center City Public Charter Schools, where Kacie Warner has just helped them cook a vegetable stir-fry, as a lesson on the parts of edible plants.

"Whats our stem?," asks Warner.

"Celery!" shout the students.

"What are our leaves?"

"Spinach!"

"What did we put in for our fruit?"

"Peppers!"

Warner is the Education Coordinator for the Garden Science Program, Garden Science Program which brings lessons in nutrition, environmental, earth and life sciences, to elementary schools in D.C. Kaifa Anderson-Hall, the program director, says the hands-on curriculum aligns with the students science standards and builds excitement about fruits and vegetables.

"Where they may [say], Ah, I don't like that, when you have them plant up seedlings of spinach and basil like they've been able to do here in the classroom," says Anderson-Hall, "and they are responsible for watching it grow that's how you make the transformation."

The stir-fry is the grand finale of an eight-week curriculum. Next,the Washington Youth Garden Washington Youth Garden will help the school build its own outdoor garden, so students can keep learning about the scientific, nutritional and, yes, gustatory wonders of the plant world, right in their own backyard.

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