Taste test: Garden herbs transition to table treats

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Vick Elementary School students experienced the direct relationship between plants grown in the garden and food at the dinner table this week.

Seven classes of third, fourth and fifth graders visited the Seeds of Hope Teaching and Community Garden garden and prepared meals for themselves using herbs they raised in class plots.

The students picked cilantro from the garden to make a salad dressing and made garlic bread to go with it.

“This gives them that continuity of planting because some of the students have planted cilantro this week and then harvesting and then creating food,” said Priscilla Morello, Seeds of Hope’s local executive director. “It gives them that participation and collaboration that they then share together as a class as a culminating meal.”

Julia Newton, garden coordinator at Seeds of Hope, worked up the program for the students.

“We are just really interested in getting the kids connected to what’s in the garden, to actually eating it and having it taste good and having an enjoyable experience eating the food,” Newton said.

Many students may not have tasted something plucked from the garden and minutes later prepared for a meal.

“I selected garlic bread because it is something we have growing in the garden, even though it’s not ready yet,” Newton said. “It is something that is not familiar to kids and garlic bread is delicious. Everybody loves it. The salad dressing is a little more challenging. If they are willing to eat the garlic bread, then perhaps they are willing to eat the salad.”

The students were also served water flavored with lemon, mint and cucumber.

“They are a little dubious about this at first, but then they say, ‘This tastes good.’” Newton said. “They are surprised.”

“It’s good helping in the garden with the kids,” said Claudia Juarez-Reyes, one of Seeds of Hope’s two garden managers. “I think it’s good because they want to know where their food comes from. My son likes ketchup, but he didn’t know it came from tomatoes.”

Fifth grader Chantz Powell said he enjoyed the experience.

“It was good,” he said. “We had to pick out some plants. We had to cut up the bread and put the butter on it. The garlic bread was a 10 out of 10.”

Fifth grader Aaron Toler also liked the garlic bread.

“I like the taste. I saw the garlic growing in the garden,” Toler said. “I give it a 20.”