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Our School Garden Taste Testing

Michelle Hayes,   Southside Middle School
Access to Healthy Foods
Our School Garden Taste Testing

Southside Middle School in Florence, South Carolina has a school garden. Health teacher, Mrs. Michelle Hayes, decided to utilize the garden in her health classes this school year, 2016-2017. This past fall we grew beautiful zinna flowers, herbs such as rosemary, mint and basil, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and okra. Two adults in our school are “in charge” of our garden: Mrs. Monique Chmielecki (nurse) and Ms. Adrienne Woodbury (teacher). Many hours are spent on their part for the upkeep of the garden. Students are utilized to help plant, water and weed. One Saturday morning in September at our local Florence farmers market, I saw a recipe for baked sweet potatoes. While I was looking at the recipe, they were serving iced mint water! Mentally, a “lesson plan” for my nutrition unit was made: Baked sweet potatoes and mint water taste testing! The following week, student helpers, Mrs. Chmielecki, Ms. Woodbury and I dug up the potatoes. They were washed and cut up by three student helpers. Ovens in a nearby classroom baked the sweet potatoes garnished with olive oil, honey and cinnamon. Several of my students said they had never tasted sweet potatoes before nor mint water! Southside success came to me when a student asked for the recipe so he could make sweet potato fries at home. Secondly, several months later, a parent shared with me that her son asks for her to buy sweet potatoes so she can make sweet potato fries for dinner!

How did you accomplish your goals?

My goal was to allow my students to see and taste an alternative to fried potatoes and to try baked potato fries. I cooked the potatoes in the oven and seasoned them with olive oil, honey and cinnamon. Secondly, I emphasized the importance of water. Students tried mint leaves in their water. Many of my students said they never tried mint water or baked sweet potatoes before!