Sylvia Pearson introduces children to food straight out of the ground.

I have a very poor track record for growing fruit and veg (or houseplants, or even grass). As a childminder, I feel that teaching children about fresh, locally grown food is important, but I was struggling to find a way to give them a real understanding of what grows locally and how we can use it. So, when I saw an Instagram story about the crop-share veg boxes you can have delivered from the Plot – a community farm near Garstang – I was really excited. I’m lucky enough to live in one of the delivery areas, so early Friday morning when the first child arrived at my door, they were excited to find a ‘present’ on the doorstep.

We brought the box in and unpacked all the beautiful veggies. The children helped wash and store the food, learning that it was important that we made some of it available for the next week. Three weeks in and they know the routine. My Friday team of children are aged from 21 months to 4½ years old. They learned fast what veg needs washing immediately, what doesn’t, which things we can eat straight away, or what needs cooking.

Our experimentation with different vegetables has enabled the children to have an active part in preparing the food that they eat. Even when we’ve made something that hasn’t been a hit, we’ve been able to talk about what we could do next time to make it tastier. Even if it’s not possible to make something seem appealing to some children (a few kale-adverse kiddos here) we’ve learned about what leafy green vegetables do for our bodies and celebrated the small amount they have tried.

We start cooking lunch at 9 a.m. so we’ve loads of time, we choose recipes that don’t rely on specially prepared vegetables; we all put our prepared vegetables into the same bowl. If they lose interest, I will cover the food in case they want to come back – they always have this choice, but usually, they’re happy to watch me finish off preparing the vegetables. Encouraging children to learn to safely use knives, scissors, and peelers in the kitchen is a great gross motor skill that not only supports their development for future writing but also just teaches them a skill they will need as adults. Real skills for real life.

Get involved

For more information about the Plot and its produce and the FarmStart training programme, visit: foodfutures.org.uk/the-plot

This story was from our most recent THRIVE issue, please find the online magazine here.

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