Teaching Kids About Real Food From the Ground Up

Teaching Kids About Real Food From The Ground Up

Wed 15 Jun 2011

Story by Natalie Shepp

“This is the best field trip I have ever been on!” Those words frequently slip from the mouths of the children who are fortunate enough to visit the Tucson Village Farm (TVF).

During their two hours at the farm, they will pick and plant vegetables, prepare soil, see numerous veggies growing, milk a ceramic cow named Gertie (while learning about the benefits of eating dairy), view grains in their whole state, discover the importance of worms to our food system, take a hay ride to pick a pumpkin or learn about agricultural science projects, and munch on a bag of fresh-popped popcorn (not the kind that hides in a bag in the microwave).

Tucson Village Farm is the brain-child of Leza Carter, a very determined woman who wanted to offer programs that reconnect young people to a healthy food system, teach them how to grow and prepare fresh food, and empower them to make healthy life choices.

The University of Arizona (UA) and Pima County Cooperative Extension graciously invited TVF to join them and they worked together to secure a visible location for the farm at the UA’s Agricultural Extension. Leza then teamed up with Elizabeth Sparks and Cheralyn Shmidt, two like-minded women from the Extension’s 4-H program and the Arizona Nutrition Network to design a “seed-to-table” program. They wanted the children to not only learn about growing their own food, but also learn ways to prepare fresh food that is both healthy and tasty.

This year, TVF welcomed over 4,000 kids to the farm. The state-standardized field trips are offered to grades K-12. In addition, there are family workshops, designed so children and parents can learn side-by-side, and a week-long summer Farm Camp for greater immersion.

In the last several months, the Tucson Village Farm has teamed up with the local branch of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Arizona Kids Food Revolution, to host a Kid’s Chef Demo Dinner and a Documentary. Participants enjoyed a local chef demonstration and a complimentary healthy dinner provided by the Arizona Kids Food Revolution creator, Charmaine Thomas, owner of Island Eats Catering.

After dinner, kids and adults alike viewed a documentary movie entitled “What’s on Your Plate?” - a film, created by kids, which discusses food politics. TVF and the Arizona Kids Food Revolution plan to continue their collaboration into the future.

The Tucson Village Farm broke ground in January 2010 and since then has grown from one woman’s dream into a dynamic agriculture and nutrition education program for youth.

It’s clear that getting kids outside and engaged in physical activity and empowering them to develop healthier eating habits are the key ingredients in fighting childhood obesity. The Tucson Village Farm is proud to be a partner in the Food Revolution!

About the author: Natalie Shepp is the mother of two food revolutionaries and a proud volunteer at the Tucson Village Farm. She is also the creator and Site Coordinator of her neighborhood community garden.


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