As part of our membership in Slow Foods USA Farm to School Program, we partner with The Family Table Farm, a local farm owned by Mike and Lisel Record, to purchase naturally grown (without the use of pesticides), local produce. When the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares are delivered to the school, the children cook with the freshly harvested produce and eat their freshly prepared dish, sharing the fruits of their labor around a communal table. As the children cook and eat their way through the year, their understanding of local and seasonal produce grows.
Today marked our first CSA meal. It was particularly exciting to begin our program with garlic scallions, as they feature a common local ingredient that is nevertheless nearly impossible to find in commercial supermarkets, and because much of the preparation consists of tasks that the children can accomplish safely and independently. During the independent work period, the children had the option of performing Practical Life tasks that consisted of preparing the ingredients for the pesto.
Some of them chose to crack walnuts, carefully slice garlic scallions with child-sized cleavers (a variation on the traditional Montessori children's house "Cutting Carrots" lesson), or grind fragrant herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, and star anise) with a mortar and pestle.
The children enjoyed their fragrant dish as part of a Spring harvest lunch picnic in the company of their friends. Turns out, there were more than a few fans of the delicate lemon garlic flavor of the pesto. Several of the children happily helped themselves to seconds! Hopefully, it is the first of many great meals to come!