As a GoFarm Hawai`i graduate and AgIncubator farmer, I was invited to Mid-Pacific Institute to speak with three 1st and 2nd grade classes about Libre Farm, and farming and gardening in general. I was blown away by the curiosity and enthusiasm these 60 8-year-olds had about growing food! I learned that they have recently started their own school gardens and are growing a variety of vegetables and flowers.
When I asked where their parents purchased food it was unanimously the grocery store, but they had endless stories of their grandparent's backyard gardens and some recent farm field trips. We talked about the smells and the sights of animals that are on some farms, and since you can't ride a horse at the grocery store, getting your produce on an actual farm is way more fun. We talked about some of their favorite meals and dissected what vegetables are used/can be used in them. One student offered "pepperoni" as her favorite vegetable to add to pizza, and as a group we offered alternatives such as artichoke hearts and tomatoes.
I talked about Libre Farm's CSA approach, and the relationship that develops between the farmer and the customer. Scheduling a CSA or farmers market into one's routine that has one buying products from one or more local farms gives one a consciousness of where our food comes from: a farmer that nurtured it from seed, not a 24/7 grocery shelf. Having tons of food products available from all over the world is convenient, but then we miss out on the opportunity to learn the seasonality and variety of our own community, which can actually have more variety and combination of nutrients than the far-traveled and standardized options in the grocery store. We also talked about picking and planting our own choice of seeds and the colors and shapes that surprise us.
At first, I was concerned that what I wanted to share with the students might be over their head or too controversial, but then they grilled me about GMO's, pesticides, bees, and let me know that peppermint oil/soap spray is a good natural pest remedy. The students helped me harvest seeds from my crazy cilantro bushel and what we didn't plant in starter trays, save, or spill, we tasted because cilantro seeds can also be used to become the spice coriander! (still blows my mind). I tried to impress upon them the generations of wisdom these tiny seeds had in order to become the food we eat. I told the students I wanted farmers to be as familiar to them as the mail man and Santa Claus, and that I envy the experience and knowledge they already have about growing food. At 8-years-old, they are conscious of food in a way that didn't cross my mind until 10+ years later!
This was close to the most engaged and interested group of people I have hung out and chatted with about farming! I will continue to be motivated and inspired by their curiosity and enthusiasm.