In the Field: Planting the Seeds of Nutrition
Farmer D has a conversation with Nichole Lupo about getting kids hooked on gardening with the Seeds of Nutrition Program. (Nick Scott/MNN)
Farmer D: So I’m here with Nichole Lupo from the Seeds of Nutrition program, which is a program with the Mendez Foundation. We want to get an idea of what your organization’s doing to help pollinate the good food movement.
Nichole: Well, we at Seeds of Nutrition really feel like the best way to affect change is to reconnect kids with their food system, growing future farmers and also bridging that divide of where does our food come from, what’s the best choice for my body, and what’s the best choice for the planet?
Farmer D: So, how do you get, engage these children and get that message across?
Nichole: Getting kids’ hands in the dirt, we found, is the most effective way to do that. When kids plant a seed, when they tend these crops and harvest them, they’re so ready to wash them up and eat them, and we’re finding that they are asking for these things again and again.
Farmer D: So, where do you -- do you, like, go into the schools?
Nichole: Absolutely, having a garden on campus is a must. Even if they aren’t always eating things right out of the garden, getting the opportunity to work with food crops and to eventually finish that cycle by eating that food, it makes such a huge difference in how they place value on food, and how they look for these fresh alternatives whenever they’re available.
Farmer D: That’s awesome. So, what’s the, what’s the vision for kind of the long-term goals for Seeds of Nutrition?
Nichole: Well, we’d really love to work with more teachers directly, get kids involved with growing more food, eating more fresh food, and, ultimately, try to influence the behavior and the choices of food through hands-on gardening and cooking activities.
Farmer D: Right on. So, you guys, you do the gardening, and then you take it to the next level and actually teach them about how to prepare that food?
Nichole: Absolutely, we say that we work in the garden and the kitchen classroom, because we can cook in an art room, we can cook in a cafeteria, we can cook in a classroom. Oftentimes, we cook in the garden, which we find makes a huge difference. When kids are actually standing outside eating food in the place that it was grown, those connections become even stronger.
Farmer D: What’s, like -- what do you find are the foods that kids most connect to?
Nichole: Oh, wow! They really love root crops, for sure. I think those are the ones they typically don’t think they’re going to like because they’re covered in dirt, but when they taste them and realize that there’s just a natural sweetness to root crops, they’re blown away. We’ve heard things like, “Carrots taste like candy,” which shocks them to no end and surprises me, too.
Farmer D: Nice.
Nichole: Yeah, really nice.
Farmer D: Well, you rock. Keep up the good work.
Nichole: Thank you, so much. It’s a pleasure.
Farmer D: And what’s the website, if people want to learn more about the organization?
Nichole: The website is MendezFoundation.org.