By: Sylvia Klinger, RD
 
Playing with dirt was one of my favorite hobbies as a little girl. I remember digging deep in the dirt and filling empty cans to make “mud cakes” to share them with my friends, and of course, the dog. I’m not sure if kids still play with dirt since we now have more technologically interactive commodities at our reach; but from what I have gathered from friends and family, kids in this day and age are not so keen to getting their hands soiled with dirt and grime. Which got me thinking, how can we engage kids in learning about the welfare of our lands and animals? How can we encourage a passion for learning about where their food comes from, and in doing so, construct a personal connection with agriculture? After doing some thinking, I came up with some basic agricultural lessons we can incorporate in the classroom, or at home, that will sparkle a real curiosity in kids about where their food comes from.
 
Top five things kids should know about agriculture
 
  1. Create real life experiences – Nothing can explain the work that goes on a farm like a field trip to the farm. Therefore, farm tours should be part of a child’s life experiences since learning about farm practices from the actual hand that feeds them is the ultimate learning experience.
     
  2. Harvest of the month – Learning to eat what’s in season will instill a lesson of agricultural coherence, and appreciation for the seasons. Hands on learning about what fruits and vegetables are in season will help them enjoy produce at the most optimal time of the year. To make teaching a more welcoming and interactive experience, have a calendar to show the crops that are in season at specific times of the year, and bring some of those crops to the classroom, so the kids can savor the seasonal harvest for themselves.
     
  3. Grow a plant or an herb garden in the classroom or at home – Another way to interact is by teaching the growing process of plants, and how to utilize those herbs and plants to flavor foods as a healthier alternative to using salt, sugar, and high fat-content ingredients.
     
  4. Observe and document the growth of a tree – Have the kids choose a tree around school or home and document its growth for a period of time. To make it more interactive have them form groups; this will create dynamic discussions. As a creative addition, encourage the kids to come up with some growth similarities between themselves and a tree; such as “we all need time and nourishment to grow strong and healthy.”
     
  5. Cooking with kids – Teaching kids the basics of cooking a meal will inspire them to be adventurous eaters; which may lead them to develop a curiosity about where their food comes from. Start with a simple pasta recipe like spaghetti tossed with garden tomatoes and fresh basil.

To read more from Sylvia, visit: hispanicnutrition.com/hispanic-nutrition-blog/

Sylvia Klinger is part of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance's Digital Voices Council. To learn more about the program and bloggers who participate, click here.