Written by Danica Smith, Garden Educator Manager at Winifred Pifer Elementary
Miss Danica is the Garden Educator Manager (GEM) at Winifred Pifer Elementary School in Paso Robles. Twice a month she runs a program with K -3rd grade classes called 'Library on the Lawn.' This includes a tasty garden treat that correlates with a read-a-loud story. Last month's story was, "How to Have an Apple Pie and See the World," and was accompanied by an "apple pie" smoothie for the students. The story was about a little girl wanting to make an apple pie. She went to the market for the ingredients, but the market was closed. She had to travel the world in order to acquire the ingredients she needed for her pie, such as cinnamon from the kurundu tree in Sri Lanka, and sugar cane from the island of Jamaica.
After the story, Miss Danica started conversations with students about regions that specialize in growing certain types of food, including what grows well and in abundance in Paso, such as stone fruits, grapes, and olives. The conversations stemmed from these questions; Where does food come from before it is on the market? How far does our food travel and is this helpful to our environment? To our bodies? Can food get jet lagged? What if we did not trade food all over the country? What if we didn't have big grocery stores with food from all over the world? What would it feel like to eat only locally, seasonally grown items?
After some thoughtful conversation, students indulged in a smoothie taste test (recipe below). Chia seeds were the item that most students had not heard of or tasted before. The most important fact about chia seeds is the magical activation they must undergo before they are ingested. Chia should be soaked in water (or any liquid) in order for important nutrients to release and be more readily available to the body. Many teachers after this part of the lesson said they never knew that about chia seeds.
The work One Cool Earth does inside schools not only affects positive change in the students via the garden but in the faculty and greater school community. When teachers see Miss Danica on campus, they'll get excited and ask what the treat is, or when their turn for "apple pie" smoothie is. Miss Danica looks forward to sharing more delicious, healthful foods to all the students, staff, and parents she works with.
"Apple Pie" smoothie recipe:
1 frozen banana
2 tbsp chia seeds (let these soak in water for 3 - 5 minutes)
8-12 oz. of water
handful of kale or spinach
dashes of cinnamon, to taste
1 spoonful of coconut oil
**Add or take out whatever ingredients your heart desires!**