Salad Party – Guest Blog by Kathy Troeger
When I first started being the lead volunteer at our daughter’s elementary school garden, I was eager to get a lunch time Garden Club going. It was sparsely attended at first, but soon it became pretty popular because the students loved how they got to rotate through the tasks like weeding, watering, and most especially getting to be my “right hand helper” as each of their classrooms visited the garden during Planting Weeks. They felt a huge sense of pride watching over their bountiful creation, and once a month I rewarded the club with a salad party. Since the school garden was just seedlings, I brought simple organic ingredients for our festivities. The students raced to the garden, where everything was all set up in stations. Each child got to do a task to prepare our delicious lunch- from juicing the lemon, to peeling then crushing the garlic, to measuring the olive oil and vinegar, placing it all together in the glass jar with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sometimes we would experiment by adding freshly cut basil or cilantro to the jar, just for fun! The lid would go on and the jar was passed around the table as each little person got their turn to SHAKE It UP. The modest salad, with mixed greens, radish and cucumber became a feast with the homemade dressing, and turned some adamant salad haters into salad lovers who begged for seconds.
The most wonderful thing about volunteering with the children was the camaraderie that grew amongst them. I would watch them show up, one by one -some would bounce in filled with great spirit, another would show up down in the dumps about something that was making them sad. The gardening would begin and when the time was up, it was as if a magic wand had been waved over the whole bunch because they ran off, arm in arm, filled with laughter. The garden became their place to come where they knew they would be accepted.