At the Nov. 17 gathering for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Teacher Julie Hues’s class at Pomeroy Elementary School, TK foodies shared tasting notes after sampling pasta seasoned with five varieties of salt – kosher, Himalayan pink, wild mushroom, oak smoked and wild garlic.
Audrey Hinton, Pomeroy’s Garden and Cooking Teacher and Garden Coordinator, prepared the pasta. She used the induction burner, pot and utensils from the Charlie Cart, a mobile kitchen.
“It’s a science-based lesson where the students learn what salt does to food and how it brings out flavor,” Hinton said. “For the younger students, we talk about what the words ‘taste’ and ‘texture’ themselves mean. Then, I let the students lead the discussion as they explore each ingredient. For example, in this lesson, they will encounter the tastes of salty, bland, sweet, bitter and herbal, and textures of chewy, soft and crunchy.”
During the lesson, Hinton also introduced herbs – oregano, sage and thyme – straight from the school garden. Students described the smell, texture and appearance of these herbs while handling them.
“At Pomeroy Elementary, we have an amazing Garden to Table program,” said Kevin Keegan, Principal at Pomeroy, in an informational video. “We have this amazing partnership with our families and outside resources as well to make this community garden a wonderful place. We call it the heart of our school because it’s a place where all kids, all staff, everyone can go to and they have hands-on experiences.”
“I have probably the best job ever,” added Hinton, whose job is made possible with two grants from the Open Space Authority and the support of Pomeroy’s PTA and school funds. “I get to teach TK through fifth graders the whole process from planting the seed through how plants grow to what they taste like, how we can change them through cooking.
“We cover all the subjects from obviously math and science,” Hinton continued. “If a kid grows a vegetable and then cooks that vegetable, they are so much more likely to eat that vegetable and then to continue on for the rest of their life.”
According to Hinton, in each lesson, students handle and examine ingredients. Students are expected to utilize all five senses to experience each lesson and build their language to express their ideas and findings.
“Older students do almost all of the chopping and prep work for their recipes,” Hinton said. “The younger students spend more time exploring each ingredient, while I sometimes do the cutting or other prep work for them.”
Other recipes planned with various grades through the end of this year, also to be prepared with ingredients from the school garden, include sourdough pancakes, fruit or leather jam, herb frittata and a seeds and sprouts salad.
Pomeroy students don’t only learn about gardening and cooking from Hinton.
“We do emphasize a lot of manners, table etiquette, and cooperation, like saying, ‘Can you please pass that?’” Hinton said. “We try to get kids to try new things. We tell the kids if it’s not their favorite, it’s okay. But if someone else likes it, don’t yuck their yum.”
To learn more about the Garden to Table program, visit the Pomeroy Elementary School website.