So you have a garden at your school, dedicated volunteers who help tend it during summer months, and lots of veggies to pick early Fall, when class is back in session. How do you ensure everyone has a taste of the harvest?
The Oxford school answer: host a stone soup day!
Through readings of the stone soup story, students were reminded that healthy food is not only necessary for nourishment but also a good reason to join in community celebration.
Last week all the students at Oxford participated in such a celebration, through harvesting and meal creation. The goal was to harvest all the vegetables from the gardens, making sure nothing went to waste. Oxford school is both an elementary and junior high, hosting grades primary through 9, meaning there is a wide range of ages to help– from picking the vegetables to cooking the meal.
There is also a dedicated group of volunteers and teachers who support the gardens each year. Our group set out to host as many classes as possible, creating an atmosphere of garden discovery, encouraging students to dig for potatoes, carrots, garlic & onions, find their favourite soup garnishes (chives, herbs and nasturtium flowers!), harvest healthy leaves (spinach, kale), and pick all the tomatoes, peas and beans.
We also planted fruit and nut trees to replenish our food stock and beautify the school grounds.
From there we enlisted the help of an expert, chef Mark Rimmington from European Pantry, who joined us the next day to prepare the meal with a group of grade 8 students. We wanted to make enough so the whole school could have a taste at lunch.
Although we didn’t have enough food to feed everyone in one harvest, with the help of students, teachers, parents and community members, who were invited to bring one of their favourite veggies to add, we had enough ingredients from our collective gardens and fridges to cook the soup.
The result was delicious!…so much so that some students had 4 or 5 bowls. Our soup was overflowing with diverse vegetables, marked by the yummy undertones of tomatoes, oregano, thyme and other infused herbs. Flavours melded and blended together perfectly, thanks to the supervision of Mark.
No stones were added in the making of our ‘stone soup’ (; but the metaphors from the story were discussed: sharing, cooperation, community, health and celebration. Voila! A stone soup creation.
The story of stone soup:
“A few travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers.
The travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making stone soup, which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of the missing garnish to improve flavour.
The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup. The villager hands them a bit of seasoning. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is created and the entire village shares in the bounty.”
Since the Fall of 2013, the Good Food First club has been meeting at four schools in HRM. The club is designed for grade 4 students and teaches them about the cycle of our food using a field to fork approach. With the help of awesome volunteer garden committees, interested citizens, teachers and parents, the program increases access to and knowledge of healthy and local food.
This is achieved through delivering fun, educational workshops in the garden & kitchen. More broadly, the aim of the project is to engage youth in thinking critically about where their food comes from.
If you’re interested in teaching youth about issues related to food security, or already doing it, let’s share our interests, stories and resources; please comment below! You can also contact Laura (Community Food Coordinator – Youth Focus) for more info on the Good Food First program (firstname.lastname@example.org).