By Eileen Jordan
Several years ago, when Miranda Kianka was in my first grade class, her dad Peter invited the class to visit his vegetable garden. We had just put our tiny vegetable plants in the garden in the courtyard outside our classroom so we were so excited to see a true "grown-up" garden. Every year Peter has graciously renewed his invitation to my class so on a sunny day in mid June we walked a few blocks to Peter's fabulous organic vegetable garden.
What amazed me was the awe on the faces of the children as they entered the Kianka backyard and viewed the lush plants. They listened intently as Peter described the process of soil preparation and plant nurturing and were totally captivated as he led them through rows of pole beans, radishes, red potatoes, and eggplants. But the highlight came when they reached the peas! These luscious vegetables were ready to be harvested so Peter snipped the pods and distributed them to each child. The shouts of approval and requests for more were so delightful you would think he was snipping lollipops off the vine! Of course, these were the pioneer "kinder-gardeners" one year later so they had a vested interest in fresh vegetables. I'm thinking that if children could tend a small patch of land and nurture their own vegetables they would develop a life long love of healthy eating. The genuine interest and joy was so apparent during this visit. Here we were, a short distance from the school and the children were declaring this the "best field trip ever"!
It was time to go but one more treat awaited us as we exited the driveway passing the abundant honeysuckle bushes. Peter taught us how to expertly extract the honey from the flower. With tiny beads of sweet honey on our tongues and pockets stuffed with honeysuckle blossoms we waved good-bye.