While other boys were down at the swimming hole or playing baseball, Lee Jones was picking green beans and driving a tractor. So by the age of 10, he knew how potatoes are planted, how Brussels sprouts are harvested and the importance of eating your vegetables. Today, he and his family operate one of the country’s most successful specialty produce farms for chefs, The Chef’s Garden. They also are working with chefs nationwide through the nonprofit Veggie U to spread the word to kids about the wonders of vegetables.
Soil (not dirt), earthworms, seeds, grow lights, root view boxes and delicious vegetable samples are just part of their Earth to Table program. This fourth-grade curriculum kit was developed by Veggie U and sent to more than 625 schools across the country. Kids follow seeds from the earth to the table as they learn about building a nutrient-rich soil, nourishing their bodies and creating tasty dishes that star vegetables.
Jones laments the fact that we are raising a nation of children who eat less than half the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But through the work of Veggie U, he and the chefs he caters to are ensuring that more kids know that carrots are pulled from the soil, and green beans are plucked from bushes. And that’s what gets kids eating more fruits and vegetables.
Story by Catherine H. Powers, a dietitian and nutrition consultant in Medine, Ohio.