April 9th, 2014 by Nina Macdonald
Slow Food OC has supported the fantastic garden program at Tustin Memorial Academy (TMA) in a variety of ways over the past few years. Most recently the garden program was a recipient of our first micro grant to fund their Green Bucks program. At TMA, each class and grade level at the school is responsible for planting, maintaining, and harvesting specific crops in the garden.
The Green Bucks program rewards students for outstanding participation in the garden program. The Green Bucks have cash value that students can use to make purchases of produce and value-added products at a weekly after-school market stand. The Green Bucks could also be entered into a raffle to win a cooking class presented by Slow Food Orange County, Chair and chef, Linda Elbert.
About 50 students were awarded with participation in the cooking class. The recipe they made was titled “Garden Wrap-Ups” and when completed looked like individual sushi rolls only made with vegetables, quinoa, humus and a kale leaf wrapper. The recipe was designed to utilize produce grown by the students. Kale, leeks, carrots, parsley, chives, and spring onions all came from the garden. Parents donated time prepping ingredients for student use and turning the school’s multipurpose room into a kitchen. It was exciting to see the students enjoy making and eating a dish using ingredients from their own garden. It was clear to see the positive effect growing garden vegetables as well as the opportunity to prepare their own food had on the students’ willingness to try new foods. They enjoyed both making and eating the “Garden Wrap-Ups.”
Slow Food OC supports school gardens as a way of introducing the ideas of good, clean and fair food for all to young people. Our goal is that students will adopt these values at a young age and develop life-long healthy eating habits. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with TMA and hope to offer similar support to other school garden programs.