Tag Archives: organic fruit and veggies

Kids visit the Farmers Market

Kids can visit the Farmers Market once a week for fully ripe produce picked at the peak of perfection and a diversity that is constantly changing with the seasons. This variety of produce ignites creativity in the kitchen and provides a healthy nutrient balance. The closer a food is to having been harvested the more powerful its content of textures and nutrients, making it more delicious and more effective in combating disease and improving the health and wellbeing of the family. The taste difference between a fresh picked organic peach and its canned, jarred, packaged, or conventionally grown with poisons equivalent is two different things entirely, one filled with life and one not so much. Food is medicine. Eating fresh, local, seasonal, organic fruits and veggies saves time and money at the doctors office and on prescriptions. Eating food that grows where we live also helps with our allergies and immunities. Just picked local seasonal organic ingredients have surprisingly complex flavors and taste amazing using simple recipes, like roasting veggies with a sprinkle of organic extra virgin olive oil and sea salt in the oven.

Kids love to visit the Farmer’s Market, tasting the local organic fresh fruits, smelling the flavor within, and talking to the farmers that grow them. Buying organic produce from small local farmers helps to financially sustain their farms while bringing the best food available home to our families. Kids learn where their food comes from and of the adventures farmers have bringing the food to market. Buying from local farmers is economical and eco-friendly, saving the energy used to prepare food for shipping and the fuel used by trucks to transport it. The available produce changes with the season bringing a wide range of crop diversity, depending on the climate and soil conditions of the region, which brings a healthy variety to the table. A tip farmers give kids is not to wash the produce until you are ready to use it and don’t refrigerate it until it is fully ripe.

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Kids Garden Therapy

The closer we are to nature, the healthier we are. We can make lifestyle adjustments to prevent disease and optimize health, by growing an organic garden, eating the best tasting organic food, and letting go of habits that no longer serve us. In our peaceful organic fruit and veggie garden, health awaits us, breathing the air purified by the plants, absorbing the warmth and radiance of the sun, digging our hands into the soil rich with antidepressant microbes, and eating delicious produce picked fresh at the peak of nutritional value and prepared simply with love.

Every cubic inch of healthy soil is a miniature world of beneficial living organisms that feed all living things on our planet. The same laws of the universe apply from the macrocosm to the microcosm, as above so below. When humans follow Nature’s cues and we align ourselves with her rhythm and cycles, we are healed body, mind, heart, and spirit. Eating the different in season organic veggies from our own garden, instead of eating the same processed food week after week, brings a variety of beneficial nutrients into our system and creates a healthy gut. By replacing processed food with super food from the garden, we can turn the tide on the alarming rise in diabetes, obesity, and life threatening food allergies.

Following the natural rhythms of the sun and the seasons, we get to the garden early in the morning when the plants like to be watered. We get healthy exercise, breathing the aromatherapy of the various herbs, and start the day feeling peaceful, instead of stressed. By interplanting, rotating crops and planting year round, we can focus on the growing life in our garden, which helps us release painful past experiences and keeps us on a year long balanced path. In the garden, we find little miracles to inspire us every day.

By recognizing and following natural laws, we come to appreciate that our inner nature and body functions have come into alignment with outer Nature and the environment. Eating organic food that is fresh from the garden, heals our bodies of the toxins that cause disease. Communing with Nature in the herb filled air of our organic veggie garden is an invigorating mood booster, stress reliever, and energy enhancer that give us a peaceful feeling of well being.

Kids grow Chillies

Kids can grow chili peppers year around in warm climates in a small to medium pot with good drainage, organic potting soil, and a regular supply of water and sun. Peppers need a sunny sheltered spot and do well in a patio or on a windowsill. Sow seeds in trays or individual pots in spring and transplant them into a medium size pot in late spring. Kids can also plant them in grow bags or in raised bed veggie gardens in early summer. The chilies are green when unripe and turn yellow, red, and orange when ripe. Chilies, Capsicum genus, are members of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes and have various levels of heat from sweet to very hot. There are hundreds of varieties of chilies, from the very hot Habanera chili to the mild Anaheim chili. The seeds and white membranes of the chili contain 80 percent of the hot capsaicin. Chilies are widely used in Southwestern cooking. In the heat of summer, chilies turn yellow, red, and brown. Kids can harvest them when they are dark green and wear plastic gloves to remove all the seeds and white membranes of the chili to retain the flavor but cut the heat and make a terrific salsa.

Kid Chef Chili Enchiladas

Kids in New Mexico look forward to celebrating the chili harvest. At the end of summer, roadside stands are filled with different varieties of bright green chilies, often with vendors roasting the chilies on the spot.  Kids can roast 3 organic Poblano chilies on a parchment covered sheet pan in a 425⁰ oven for 20 minutes, turning occasionally with tongs. Kids can slice 1 organic zucchini and 1 organic sweet potato into rounds and place on two parchment covered sheet pans with 1 sliced organic portabella mushroom, 1 small chopped eggplant, 1 garlic clove, and 1 thick slice of yellow onion. Sprinkle with organic extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and roast in a 425⁰ oven for 20 minutes.

To make the enchiladas, kids need 2 packages of 6 organic white corn tortillas and 1 quart of homemade organic tomato sauce. Peal the cooled Poblano chilies, remove the top with the seeds, and cut each of them into quarters. Kids can spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8”x 12” baking pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Simmer the organic tomato sauce in a pan and using tongs dip one tortilla at a time in the sauce, flipping it to cover and soften both sides. Still holding the tortilla with the tongs, place it in the baking dish.  Put inside on one edge of the tortilla: one slice Poblano chili and mushroom, 2 – 3 slices zucchini, eggplant, sweet potato, and sprinkle with chopped onion and garlic. Roll up the tortilla and place it seam side down on the baking dish. Repeat with the other 11 tortillas, arranging the rolled stuffed tortillas side by side in the baking dish. Kids can spoon the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Bake for 20 minutes. Kids can serve them at a party or freeze some for later.

Kids Heirloom Plants

An heirloom or heritage variety of plant must be open pollinated, where the pollen from one plant is spread to another by insects or by the wind. Seeds saved from heritage plants will breed true to its parent plant, and all heritage seeds are free from genetic modification. After World War II, industrial agriculture became widespread, using F1 hybrid seeds, which do not breed true to the parent and are often sterile.  Traditionally all farmers and gardeners saved their own seeds, now three corporations own 75% of all seeds grown on the planet.  Before 1950, most plants were bred to fulfill the needs of the home gardener, with local climate, flavor, and variety being most important. F1 hybrid plants are bred for uniformity, the ability to withstand transportation, and crops that ripen at the same time. The United States has lost 90% of its food plant biodiversity over the last hundred years with a 50% loss of food varieties worldwide. Open pollinated seeds, unlike hybrid seeds, can adapt to changing environmental conditions growing in the field or garden and interact with the varying site needs. Seed Savers Exchange, The Heritage Seed Library, local seed swaps, and seed banks around the world are a vital part of restoring heirloom plants. A cabbage that thrives in Maine is a different variety from a Southern Californian cabbage variety.  Home gardeners can grow organic open pollinated varieties that are particular for their climate and then save and swap seeds with their neighbors to conserve biodiversity and limit corporate control of food seeds.

Kids Preserve the Harvest

Kids can eat better and live greener by growing an organic veggie garden in containers on a patio and in raised beds in the backyard. Freshly harvested local organic vegetable varieties are superior in flavor, texture, and nutritional content to commercial produce whose varieties are grown with chemicals and chosen to travel and store well. When kids harvest their organic veggies, they can preserve some of them to stop decomposition and retain the flavor and texture of their produce for many months. Kids can freeze, dehydrate, and quick pickle their harvest to make it last and improve the quality of their family dinners during the winter, while reducing their carbon footprint. When choosing foods to preserve, kids can focus on the products they like the most and will use often. Roots, onions, and winter squashes keep well in a cool, dark storage. Kids can dry fruit for terrific on the go snacks and to add to baked goods. Kids can add salt to vinegar, with some sugar and seasonings and create quick pickled cucumbers, beets, relishes, and sauces that will last in the refrigerator and are easy to make. However, the best method for kids to preserve their harvest is freezing.  Freezing does change the texture of produce, but it is not noticeable when cooking the frozen veggies and adding them to dishes. The flavors of thawed foods almost taste fresh. To stop enzyme action in veggies, kids can steam blanch the veggies for a few minutes in a steamer, put the veggies in an ice water bath, and drain them thoroughly before freezing.  All cooked dishes freeze well, including fruit pies and baked goods. Kids can cook extra dishes and sauces during harvest time and freeze them for terrific meals some months later.

Kids Garden Tower Project

The ultimate patio farm is the Garden Tower Project, where kids can grow 50 plants in four square feet. Easy to assemble, my dog and I put it together and had it planted in a couple of hours. Plants grow faster in the Garden Tower because they are protected in their own special microclimate with a constant access to nutrient dense water. It is made from 100% recyclable food grade plastic and turns 360⁰ on a base with a rotatable lower planting ring. The Garden Tower contains a vertical vermicomposting system that has red wriggler worms living in a long tube running down the center. Kids can regularly feed the worms with organic kitchen scraps to keep the tube full. The worms turn this organic matter into worm castings, the most excellent organic fertilizer and soil amendment. The compost at the bottom of the tube turns to rich black organic matter and can be removed easily from a drawer on the bottom of the tower. As water is poured on the top to feed the plants, some of the water seeps down the compost tube absorbing nutrients from the castings and compost, feeding the plant roots and collecting at the bottom drain hole. Kids can pour the water from the drawer into a watering can to pour back on top of the tower tube adding more nutrients to the plants. The worms also aerate the soil and keep it fresh and active with microorganisms. The Garden Tower design creates a self contained system, requiring no weeding, easily accessible, and an attractive addition to the patio. This composting vertical Garden Tower is an education in ecology for school gardening programs, where kids find fun, worms, and delicious food!