PS 346’s kindergarten class brushed aside the freshly fallen autumn leaves as they prepared to harvest vegetables from the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). According to Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman, the fall is the perfect time to see what plants are ripe for picking.
Roytman began her weekly lesson by summarizing where seeds come from: When a plant germinates, particularly fruits and vegetables, it grows seeds. These plants are known as spermatophytes. A seed is simply a plant embryo incased in a shell. When we place these seeds in the dirt (noting the depth and season that it would thrive in) we are giving it space to grow roots. After the roots branch out, a stem breaks the surface and then a bud slowly blossoms. In order for a plant to flourish, it needs water and sunshine.
In addition to learning where seeds come from, Roytman wanted the kindergarteners to understand the characteristics of seeds. The class was asked to describe the seed’s size, shape, texture and color by participating in a sorting game. “The students created and solved mathematical problems (adding and subtracting) by sorting seeds, based on their properties,” said Roytman.
After their sorting game, Roytman showed the children how vegetables are harvested. Each fruit and vegetable must be examined by their color and size to see if it is ready to be picked. Fruits, such as cherry tomatoes should be plucked from their vines only when they are bright red. There are large tomatoes that are green, but the smaller ones generally are red or orange in color when ripe. Roytman said to the children: “Mind the ones that are ripe and split because these are good for cooking sauce and soup, the ones that are red and whole are good to eat in a salad, and the green ones aren’t ready yet!” After her instructions all of the kindergartens were given a chance to pluck a cherry tomato from the UGC’s beds.
Together the class harvested butternut squash, mini watermelons, tomatoes, and yellow banana peppers. After picking the fresh fruit and vegetables the children then weighed their produce. “We had the kids harvest three cherry tomatoes each and then we put all the cups on the scale. Then after weighing all of our produce we harvested it weighed 1lb,” said Roytman.
Photo courtesy of Jacqui Roytman