Here at Bay Leaf Kitchen, we're hosting our first-ever after-school program! At the heart of every class is a generously donated organic CSA box from Eatwell Farm. The preschool and early elementary students come to class each week bubbling with curiosity around what we're going to be cooking.
My favorite part of the class is opening the surprise CSA box. The kids all gather around, bright-eyed with excitement as we prepare to unveil the contents of the mystery box. After a ceremonial index-fingered drum roll, we pry open the lid; one by one we pull out each treasure and pass it around the class, stopping to ask if anyone knows just what on earth we might be holding. Each child touches it, smells it, and savors. More often than not, they are putting a name to this particular piece of produce for likely the very first time. We have an open discussion about the vegetation itself: noting the process in which it grows on the earth, identifying what part of the plant it comes from, and sharing some important nutritional facts. After the contents of the box are revealed and prominently displayed on the table, we examine the day's recipe and solicit the group for any suggestions.
We love to taste new things, and often pick a few delectable treats to slice up and share. The students work like busy bees for the remainder of the session, fervently peeling, grating, and chopping fresh produce all the way up until we have a delicious snack to collectively relish at the end of our time together. Despite some uncertainty of preferences at the beginning of class, in regards to the day's produce, by the time we reach the conclusion, nearly every student loves to eat, and share, what they have worked to prepare.
A parent spilled over with gratitude last week proclaiming that her son now loves and constantly requests romanesco. He would never touch broccoli or cauliflower before, so she was elated. It warms my heart to hear that we are indeed creating positive change by introducing and creating excitement around local, seasonal produce. Some call us brave to teach cooking to such small kids. We feel like this is a great opportunity to impact young palates and encourage healthy eating habits. The class is an absolute joy, and we are beyond grateful for the opportunity to share such a bountiful box of healthy bliss with the children each and every week.
- Chef Alicia