Why is it important for children to know where their food comes from?
Food is the source of energy which helps sustain living. All parents strive to feed their children a healthy diet. With the increasing amount of contamination in our food this is becoming increasingly difficult. Hence more and more people are resorting to grow their own food in order to be sure of the food they are consuming. In this journey its important for children also to be aware of the source of their food and its nutritive value so they can be responsible for the same.
The objective of introducing this to children and involving them in this process is:
- To facilitate an understanding of the life cycle of plants
This was exemplified at the Kindergarten of British Schools, Uruguay.
The kindergarten experimented with a traditional garden plot with little results, due to several factors – limited space; mud prevented the children from keeping clean; the large number of children participating in the activities did not allow direct handling of tools; watering has been too complex; and last, the crop has not been worth it taking into account the big effort made by the group.Therefore, when they had the opportunity to learn about hydroponics techniques there was great interest amongst the teachers. After observing the enthusiasm of the children and their involvement, the idea was born of integrating this technique at school. Simplified Hydroponics is hygienic and does not require a lot of space, and it offers direct and individualised participation by children.It allows children to observe plant roots without pulling the plant out of its environment, and to watch as plants grow relatively quickly.
How is Pindfresh helping?
It is evident that Simplified Hydroponics is a valuable tool in the education process, because it arouses curiosity in young children and stimulates their learning. It also brings them nearer to nature, and increases their self-esteem and personal satisfaction when they become aware of their achievements over a short period of time.At Pindfresh, we try to live these values by holding educational sessions in local schools and we also host sessions with groups of children and their parents. All these activities always result in a lot of excitement from children and parents alike and we hope to take this element across to a wider audience through our various systems.
- To facilitate an understanding of plant functions
- Participate in the process of food production
- Contribute to the development of healthy eating habits
- Develop teamwork among the children
- Motivate respect and values for life in nature
The project involved the following:
Caring for the Plants – The children inspected their own plants periodically (water level, water colour, root aspect and plants leaves), always in the company of the teachers, who continued reinforcing concepts and instructing them about the control and growing of plants.
Tasting and Eating – When it was ready to harvest, some of the produce was collected (lettuce, chives, radish, basil, etc.) by the children, and washed and prepared in a salad with oil, vinegar, lemon and salt. Snack tables were laid and the children encouraged to taste or eat the salads. The message was: “I taste, if I don’t like it, I may leave it”, which was very effective. Ninety per cent of the children tasted the different types of produce.
The project results were fantastic and led to unique experiences for teachers, children and their parents.
Developing Values – The hydroponic project encouraged a commitment from the children to look after their plants during the growth cycle, from seed to harvest. It also gave the children a respect for life sciences, and helped develop self-esteem for having been part of a project as producers of food, or decorative flowers. The hydroponic project not only taught the children how to work together as a team, but helped them develop healthy eating habits.
Dietary Habits – At the age of four and five years, eating habits are still developing. A significant benefit of the project was the improved eating habits of the children and their families. Over a three-month period, the acceptance of vegetables in their diet went from 51% to 74%, an increase of 23%.