Fourth graders from Stacey Sanborn and Sarah Zima classes at Manchester School got a lesson in nutrition after harvesting carrots from the school’s gardens and making creations with them recently.
With the help of parent volunteers, Chef Samantha Cowens-Gasbarro, the school nutrition and wellness coordinator for RSU14, and Pam Lanz, a former guidance counselor at the school, the students made a variety of recipes featuring either orange, white or purple carrots and parsley all from the Manchester School garden.
The harvested carrots were all weighed, for a total of 36 ½ pounds. One carrot tipped the scales at one pound. Left overs that were not used in the soup or muffins the fourth graders made were put into the freezer to be used this winter in the school’s lunch program.
“All of the kids reflected on the project and made connections (to all subject areas),” said Sanborn. RSU14 superintendent Sandy Prince also came to sample the creations. “That really made an impression on them,” said Sanborn. They thought that if Mr. Prince came then what they were doing must be very important, she added.
It was determined that the white carrots were sweeter and the purple carrots stained hands and mouths. Most of the students tried the muffins and the soups that were prepared.
“I liked the muffins. I didn’t notice the carrots,” said Eliza. She did however notice the pineapple taste.
“I shaved carrots for the first time,” said Claudia, whose hands turned dark purple for a couple of days.
The gardens were started at the school in 1999 right after the school was renovated. Vegetable gardens were added in 2009. Now with the hoop house, which they’ve had for five or six years, the program has grown a lot more and more children have access to the garden and to fresh produce.
Jaydon said, “I didn’t expect to like them, but I liked the muffins. I get to go home and make more.” She was also excited about meeting the school chef.
Anthony also liked meeting Chef Sam, as they called her.
This is the fourth year that Sanborn and her class have cooked with the items they have harvested. All of the activities from the weighing and measuring of the carrots to the measuring of ingredients have meaning when it comes to the curriculum, Sanborn said. “We really find it valuable. It connects directly with science and math.”
Parents have said that children who garden at school come home and ask to garden there, or are more helpful when it comes to picking vegetables for the meal or preparing a salad while at home.
“It shows our ongoing commitment to school gardening and sustaining what we've created,” said Lanz, who started the gardening program at Manchester School.
Savannah, her mom Selina Paine, and her sister helped with the gardens this past summer.
“We made the carrot soup. It was so yummy. I liked the muffins the best,” said Tabitha.
Sanborn’s class also made applesauce this year as well as started a composting program. Each year the classes involved decide what they would like to plant in the garden. Sanborn said that this class is looking at dragonfly carrots to plant for next season.
Three classes take part in the gardening program.
The following pieces were written by students in Sanborn’s class reflecting on the garden to table process.
By Claudia Yurrita
I tugged an orange carrot out of the ground along with a heavy puff of breath.
I dragged it over to the dirty picnic table and slammed it on the table.
Next thing I know, I’m in the kitchen rinsing a dirty carrot under the chilly water.
A few days later I’m in the cafeteria shredding up carrots and dicing carrot tops. Next I switch to the purple carrots. My hands turn a dark shade of violet. When I finish chopping, I trot over to the crock pot. I slowly mix the thick carrot soup. A garlicky aroma dances into my nose. I couldn’t wait to try the soup.
I bite into a carrot muffin and a burst of flavor explodes into my mouth. A heavenly smile melts onto my face and now I know this was the best day of school ever!
By Shawna Edwards
I picked carrots. One of my carrots looked like a rat. Also I probably picked 10 or more carrots. The carrots were hard to pick. It was a lot of work. My hands were dirty and cold. I probably picked more purple carrots than orange carrots. When I washed my hands the dirt didn’t come off. My class picked 36 ¼ pounds of carrots. The longest carrot was 11 ½ inches long. The heaviest carrot is 8 ½ ounces.
Washing carrots is hard work because you are bending all the time. The purple carrots had more dirt on them than the orange carrots. I mostly washed the purple carrots but I did wash a lot of orange carrots too. The water was freezing cold when I was washing the carrots. Also one time when I was washing the carrots the water got really hot.
My whole class went down to the cafeteria to make soup, muffins and some people pealed carrots. Sophia, Cameron, Anthony, Jade and me made muffins. We all got a chance to put in the ingredients. Then everybody got to put in the batter in the muffin pan. While the muffins were baking, the class was all coloring a page. I colored a cornucopia. Then when the muffins were done Chef Sam let them cool. Then she let everybody try one but I didn’t try one, but I heard they were delicious. The superintendent even thought they were delicious.
By Finn Smith
My class picked carrots out in the garden. We picked 36 pounds of carrots. After, we washed them in cold water. Some of the carrots were very dirty.
Next we got into groups and cut and peeled carrots. They made our hands purple. After, we drew pictures of Thanksgiving. Next I got to try carrot muffins and soup. They were so good.