This winter break, entertain your kids with these fun farm to school activities! Be sure to post photos of all the fun to the Northwest Michigan Farm to School Facebook page!
The Legend of the Three Sisters
This past month, the fourth-fifth grade split class at Interlochen Elementary showed their gratitude for food by writing thank you notes (like the one featured above) and cooking a Three Sisters Soup that they served to the school and kitchen staff Multiple students could be heard saying the soup “tasted like chili”! Maybe it was all those delicious spices. The second-graders at Traverse Heights Elementary also cooked the Three Sisters Soup and made some very creative and heartwarming thank you notes for food service staff.
But don’t let us have all the fun! This winter break, read The Legend of the Three Sisters with your kids and learn all about corn, beans, and squash. Then, make a Three Sisters soup! While you wait for it to simmer, you and your kids can color in the picture of the three sisters planted together. See if you can tell which sister is which.
Nothing says Christmas like… kale?
Cooking with kids may sound like a mess waiting to happen, but if you’re willing to put up with a few spills and imperfect quantities, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You’d be amazed what kids will eat when they’ve had a hand in the process!
For an easy at-home recipe, try making “Christmas” smoothies. The kale gives the smoothie its signature color, and red flecks of apple peel loan a particularly Christmas-y touch. You can find our recipe here: Christmas Smoothie (www.mlui.org/userfiles/filemanager/3532/).
Feel free to embrace the experimentation process and mix up juices, fruits, and quantities to suit your tastes. Smoothies are some of the easiest, quickest, and healthiest snacks to make at home with kids.
Why should science teachers have all the fun? Turn your kitchen into a laboratory by holding a blind taste test of locally grown, farm-fresh carrots and baby carrots. Challenge your kids to use all of their senses (except sight, of course!) and collect data on family member preferences.
If you’ve got some upper elementary or middle schoolers around, recruit them to graph preferences and analyze the results. Take it even further and make hypotheses in advance of the taste test about how factors such as soil fertility, growing practices, processing, packaging, distance traveled for distribution, weather, and more could influence taste and personal preference.
Carrots are Farm to School in Northwest Michigan’s Harvest of the Month. Check out this informative flyer for fun facts, recipes and more!
Finding local food in the winter
You can still find winter squash, kale, carrots and much more locally grown food in the winter in northwest Lower Michigan. The Michigan Land Use Institute’s Taste the Local Difference directory shows the following farmers markets have winter hours: Charlevoix, East Jordan, Grand Traverse Commons and Harbor Springs. Just click on the farmers market tab for more details. You’ll find a directory of farms there too. Discover with your children what’s available right near home.
Meghan McDermott and Lianna Bowman are FoodCorps Service Members working with children, food service directors and teachers in area schools through the Michigan Land Use Institute’s farm to school program.