Kids Biodynamic Garden

Kids can grow abundant food in small spaces with techniques developed over the last century. In the 1920’s the philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, and his followers broke from conventional monoculture row planting and invented a gardening method called biodynamic, using organic compost and mulch for fertilizers and practicing companion planting. Biodynamic gardening also takes into account the influence of the sun, moon and planets when planting the garden. Building on this method and the French Intensive method of planting vegetables close together and using cloches to grow year round, Alan Chadwick created a 4 acre Biodynamic Garden Project at the University of California at Santa Cruz in the 1960’s that produced four times as many vegetables as a conventional garden, while needing less water and less maintenance.

Kids can grow their own biodynamic garden by creating a healthy garden ecosystem. Kids can view their garden‘s soil, plants, insects, and animals as parts of a single living whole.  A self sustaining garden supplies all of its own essential nutrients for balanced growth, from organic matter for compost to micronutrients for healthy plants and requires the least amount of time and money in the long term. Using raised beds, planter boxes, and vertical garden containers filled with rich organic soil, earthworm compost, and a drip watering system, kids can grow an abundant harvest of fruits and veggies on the balcony or patio.

Kid Chef Veggie Korma

Korma is a comforting, creamy curry. This ancient vegan, gluten free dish originally comes from India, has traveled around the world, and gained different vegetables and spices in the mix. The healthy secret to preparing yummy korma is the order of the ingredients added into a large stainless steel pot with a lid, which keeps all the vegetable nutrients in the simmer sauce. Sauté ½ cup chopped organic red onion in 2 tbsp coconut oil, add 1 minced organic garlic clove, 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, cook 1 minute. Stir in ¼ tsp organic ground cardamom, ¼ tsp organic dried red pepper chili, ½ tsp curry powder, ¼ tsp turmeric, and sauté 1 minute.  Add ¾ cup water, 1 chopped organic potato, 1 sliced organic carrot, ½ cup chopped organic cauliflower, 1 cup chopped organic eggplant, ½ tsp sea salt, and bring to a simmer and cook 12 minutes. Add ½ cup chopped organic zucchini, 1/3 cup organic peas, and ¾ cup coconut milk and simmer 12 more minutes. The sauce should be thick and creamy and pale yellow. Korma is traditionally served with rice.

Kids Aspirin

In 1899, a new synthetic compound was created and patented from salicylic acid and called Bayer Aspirin. It has survived unchanged into the 21st Century, maintaining enviable sales as a heart medication.  Salicylic acid derived from willow tree bark has been used for thousands of years to reduce fever, pain, and inflammation, with the side effects of nausea, tinnitus, and gastric irritation. With the development of television in the 1950’s, people heard the commercials and started taking Aspirin for every little thing. All Big Pharma companies today have a quest to develop better pain relievers. Most of these pain projects focus on blocking some type of ion channel in neurons involved with the transmission of painful stimuli. Hence the immense commercial successes of opiates, which are both psychologically and physiologically addictive, induce drowsiness and constipation, and can halt breathing, causing death.

Organic compounds produced by plants are extremely complex and difficult to manipulate in a laboratory. Other synthetic compounds were created from salicylic acid to compete with Bayer Aspirin, such as the over the counter analgesics, Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin. Most people consider them totally benign and take them frequently with little awareness of their risks. The main adverse side effects of these so called safe products are gastrointestinal ulceration, kidney damage, and excessive bleeding.

Kids should take these salicylic acid products sparingly, only for real illness, fever, injury, or as prescribed by the doctor. For a headache or minor pains, kids can have a relaxing bath, a cold pack, a cup of chamomile tea, and a nap.

School Garden Volunteers

School gardens are outdoor classrooms where kids can experience the miracle of life and learn history, science, and math with practical applications. Most schools have a patch of dirt that can be set aside for a garden and even a greenhouse. A sunny school wall can be fitted with vertical garden to grow herbs, flowers, and veggies. Gardening gets kids excited to eat organic in season veggies that they have grown and to try new foods, establishing healthy habits for a lifetime. An organic raised bed garden in the school yard becomes a snack bowl, as kids love to snack on berries, veggies, and fruit while they pick them.

A thriving school garden needs a dedicated Garden Caretaker and a staff of loyal volunteers to keep the garden growing.  A majority of the garden chores continue through the summer when schools are closed. Many schools have summer garden parties where kids, teachers, parents, grandparents, and staff gather for a workday of garden chores, food, and fun. Everyone loves having a pizza oven in the garden, where kids can choose their favorite veggie toppings fresh from the garden.

Experienced volunteer gardeners can awaken in kids the joy of growing their own food and can help produce abundant food for school lunches. Kids can hardly wait to eat what they have grown. A Garden Caretaker opens new doors to kids that have been alienated from nature, abused, or bullied, with their knowledge of the interaction of growing things and their consistent presence in the garden.  Studies show that kids who spend time outdoors, playing in nature, and growing an organic veggie garden are healthier and happier. The Garden Caretaker sets up schedules, organizes work parties, shows what to plant where, and keeps the garden flourishing.

When kids learn to grow their own food with experienced gardeners, they develop healthy eating habits, gain confidence and self sufficiency, and learn life skills. School gardens give kids not only food, but exercise, science projects, and a sense of connection to all life.

Kid Chef Coconut Rice

Kids love the enchanting flavor of coconut and cinnamon blended together with organic brown basmati rice, wild rice, and dried super berries. Wild rice is the same rice that Native Americans were growing for thousands of years. Goji berries contain the 8 essential amino acids and are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, minerals, omega 6 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.  Kids can easily make this rice dish by putting ½ cup of organic Wild Rice Mixed with Basmati Rice in a pot with 1 cup coconut milk, ¼ cup water, and 1 tsp organic virgin coconut oil and bring to a boil. Add ¼ cup dried goji berries, ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp sea salt, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp turmeric. Simmer for 35 minutes, remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes. Kids love this nutrition rich rice dish that is both sweet and savory.

Kids cook with Coconut

Coconuts are nutritional powerhouses, with electrolytes in its coconut water, antimicrobial properties in its heart healthy coconut oil, and nutrient and enzyme rich in its coconut meat.  Coconuts can be substituted for butter, cream, and milk in recipes. Coconut products, such as coconut oil, flour, yogurt, sugar, and milk can be used to make breads, soups, entrees, desserts, and skin moisturizers. To get the water from a mature brown coconut, puncture the softest of the three “eyes” at the coconut’s top with a paring knife and drain the water into a glass. This coconut water makes a perfect sport drink for kids. Coconuts have a very hard shell and it takes practice to crack it open. Kids need an adult to open a coconut with a cleaver tapping around the middle until it splits in half. Fresh coconut is the meat from a mature brown coconut and can be grated to add to many recipes. The most common form of coconut milk for cooking comes in a can, not in the carton next to the soy and almond milk. To make coconut milk at home, kids can put the chopped meat of one coconut in an industrial food processor and puree until smooth. Strain this mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. The pulp can be ground into coconut flour and the milk can be stored in the refrigerator. Many people around the world consider coconut oil to be a cure for all illnesses.  Organic virgin coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid that gives the body an instant source of energy, is nutrient dense and boosts immunity. Kids can use coconut products with fresh, dried, or roasted fruit in many breakfast or dessert recipes. Kids will delight in the creaminess of coconut milk and ice cream and the crunchy texture of dried coconut and coconut chips. Coconut is an ideal ingredient as it can be creamy, crunchy, sweet, or savory and kids love the flavor.

Saving Seeds for Future Generations

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is part of a global effort to secure the diversity of our most important crop plants to ensure that humanity has food seeds in spite of wars, climate change, and natural disasters. The Seed Vault is the answer to the international community’s pressing need for the future of global agriculture as a bank for storing seeds to conserve diversity and food security for people today and beyond. Located near the North Pole in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, the Seed Vault is completely funded by the government of Norway and built to the highest standards. Tucked away in a frozen mountain that keeps the seeds cool at -18⁰C, a long tunnel, partially encased in a steel tube, leads 130 meters deep to the entrance of the vault rooms containing seeds from countries around the world. The seeds are carefully dried and frozen to preserve them for hundreds of years.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built in 2008 under the guidance of Cary Fowler, a long time champion of seed saving, who had worked over 20 years to establish an international seed bank. The heirloom seed savers movement, started over a hundred years ago, is concerned about the sustainability of the environment and the loss of thousands of vegetable plant varieties in the last century. Big biotech companies want to control all the seeds, and they are patenting and privatizing seeds, making it illegal for farmers to retain their own crops for replanting. The world’s leading food speakers see the garden as a self sustaining, self contained living being and the organic produce from ancient heirloom seeds as pure food.

The world’s largest seed bank of plant breeding for dry areas, ICARDA, located in Syria, sent 116,000 different seed varieties to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault before the fighting broke out in Syria and gunmen took over their Seed Bank headquarters. In September, 2015, ICARDA retrieved 38,073 seed varieties from its box at the Seed Vault to replant in carefully managed plots to grow and harvest fresh new seed for their farmers. This May, the melting of the polar icecap was much greater than expected due to climate change. The entrance hall to the Seed Vault was flooded. The water did not enter the well structured Vault, but now the Norwegian government is building drainage ditches on the mountainside and waterproof walls inside the tunnel entrance hall. Inside the mountain, the structure of the vault is safe and scientists are researching permafrost in Svalbard. If a nation’s seeds are lost as a result of a natural disaster or a man made catastrophe, the seeds saved in this Arctic Vault can be used to regenerate them.