If you were to ask a child, any child, where fruits and vegetables come from, chances are they might say the supermarket.
Understanding where these foods come from, and how they get to the supermarket shelf, experts say, is essential for children to understand their nutritional values.
According to the nutritionists, the more exposure and understanding, the more likely it is a child will eagerly eat them.
So what better way to start the process than by introducing a school garden programme where students grow their own fruits and vegetables?
Six months ago, St Giles Nursery School principal Yvette Greenidge and her staff literally got 90 little pairs of hands dirty –– in an agriculture programme themed Plants Around Us –– Eat What We Grow.
“We have our own garden. We have beets, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, beans and okras,” Greenidge proudly declared.
It’s a “healthy choice” that president of the Barbados Agriculture Society, James Paul, is all for. He believes that getting the nation’s children interested in all things agriculture from such an early age will not only cut the rate of non-communicable disease in Barbados, but also promote healthy lifestyles.
“. . . If we grow the food here, it becomes more nutritious, and basically we will have a healthier people as a result of it. That in itself is extremely important; and this therefore is something that we need to encourage and replicate more in other schools,” Paul suggested.
Sticking to the theme of their programme, the toddlers have also been enjoying tasty, healthy treats made right from their garden.
“We made edible arrangements for them recently: fruit salads, pumpkin fritters, banana bread, breadfruit chips and pickled sweet potato; and they enjoyed it,” said Greenidge.
The principal maintains that children will eat fruits and vegetables heartily, if only parents keep at them from the early stages.
“The funny thing about it, parents tell us that they [children] don’t like them, but when we prepare them at school they eat them . . . . We talk to them and tell them how they are healthy and good. They eat them, so the children need more encouragement from their parents.”
So what do the little ones think about all this gardening, and their school garden, you ask?
“We love fruits and vegetables, and we grow fruits and vegetables,” the little ones of the Precious Pumpkins Class declared as they put on a successful Farmers Market in the schoolyard today.