All three program areas of the Purdue Extension Office utilized their talents to implement “Eat Your Way to Better Health” at Carlin Park Elementary where 57 3rd grade students gardened and learned about MyPlate and food safety.
Youth learned about seedling development and emergence by creating a “Living Seed Necklace” in which they were supposed to watch the development of a green bean seed by keeping their necklace inside their shirt for 3 days. One little girl exclaimed, “I’ve never planted a green bean before!,” despite that we were “planting” them on a damp cotton ball. Approximately 80% of the youth maintained their commitment and were able to see the seedling development when we visited a few days later. We discussed the edible parts of plants and how much cheaper it is to grow your own food.
We shared in conversations about the importance of making sure half of their plates at meal time are fruits and vegetables. We discussed the importance of vitamins A and C and identified the fruits and vegetables that serve as good sources of each. Students learned the importance of hand washing and washing garden produce as it relates to food safety. Youth were given a stoplight of apple slices (red, yellow, and green) and ask to taste each one thinking about its taste, texture, and color. While the opinions of the favorite apple varied, 100% of the 3rd grade students, agreed on one thing. When trying a fruit or vegetable like an apple, they agreed to not just say, “I don’t like apples,” but rather say, “I’ll try a different kind (variety)” because they learned that varieties within a species have different tastes, textures, and colors.
Nearly 90% of the respondents understood that plants needed P.L.A.N.T.S. (place, light, air, nutrients, thirst/water, and soil) to thrive per the Junior Master Gardener curriculum. Eighty-four percent of the respondents had tried a new fruit or vegetable since starting the garden at school, and over 75% were willing to try another new fruit or vegetable as a result of EYWTBH.