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Learning about nutrition by gardening

By Tatevik Aprikyan
Published On: May 16 2013 06:22:29 PM CDT

Little People's Academy Garden

Idaho Falls, IDAHO -

The Little People's Academy in Idaho Falls is taking a creative approach to nutrition.

The school received a grant from the Idaho Department of Education, Child Nutrition Program to grow their own food.

Preschoolers gathered outside in the vegetable garden and were eager to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from.

"Today we planted squash, tomatoes, zucchini and pumpkins the kids grew from the seeds. A plum tree, rhubarb, a little bit of everything. We have this opportunity to teach young children that peas are good and beans are good, right when they're making those decisions, and to help show their parents see that they can eat those things," said Laurie Barnes, accountant for Little People's Academy.

The lessons begin in the garden then expand on healthy habits in the classroom.

"Like My Plate. It's a lesson that's designed to show them how much of their plate should be fruits and vegetables, how much should be dairy," said Barnes.

All ages get involved in the school garden. The 2-year olds plant carrot seeds in colorful pots they designed, and kindergartners are learning how to plant a pumpkin patch.

"Well first you dig a hole, then you put a little water in there then you put the plant and put a little soil around it," said six-year old Jacob Eberspacher.

The goal of the program is to get kids excited about nutrition.

"It's going to grow a pumpkin, in a few weeks, like seven weeks I think. It'll sprout a pumpkin that's the color orange," said Eberspacher.

Sometimes they even try foods they wouldn't normally eat.

"They think they don't like tomatoes and then they pick it off the plant and eat it and all of a sudden it's wonderful. We hope they grow an appreciation for fresh food for whole foods and then we hope they continue that when they're adults," said Barnes.

The school also has "Taste Test Tuesdays," students are encouraged to try something new each week.
At the end of the summer they host a harvest dinner made from the food they've grown.

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