A colleague of mine at the office is doing her graduate thesis on “living classrooms”, which means that she is showcasing and highlighting the educational and nutritional benefits of integrating gardening and growing food into early education. (Photo of Rachael Ray copyright Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, Ming Tsai, Curtis Stone, Tom Colicchio, Marcus Samuelsson and Rachael Ray seem to be the posterchildren of this new “food revolution”, which most of us understand isn’t really all that new. ( I recently saw a bumper sticker that proclaimed…”Organic: it’s the way your grandparents used to eat.”) I believe that we have moved so far from the ‘farm to table’ concept that America needs these culinary stars to coax us back to a more nutritious way of eating. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a food angel by any stretch of the imagination. But, the important thing is that I’m trying to get better. And, more importantly, I’m trying to teach my three-year-old daughter better ways to keep her body healthy and energized with food. (Not an easy task, I’ll admit, but definitely worth the effort, I’m sure…stay tuned!)
Incorporating horticultural education into early childhood education has a host of benefits and can be an ideal springboard to teach other classroom concepts as well. Themes such as nutrition, horticulture, cooking, organic gardening, botany, weather patterns, seasonal change, mathmatics, the importance of water, etc. etc. etc. can all be taught and reinforced by utilizing the garden as an educational tool.
The most important and overiding concept, I believe, that could be conveyed to kids through early educational gardening is how everything is interconnected at some level, and that’s a concept that one definitely can’t discern from a drive-through restaurant!