Students learning cooking skills now, as they move indoors

LYNDEN — Students in all grade levels at Fisher Elementary School are getting their hands dirty this year in the school garden. 

The curriculum for the garden is tailored to each grade level and is a real-life application of what students are taught in their classroom. 

Hannah Allen-Young, an AmeriCorps food educator, is in her first year teaching at Fisher. 

“I was wanting some actual classroom and teaching experience,” Allen-Young said. “It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve been learning a lot.”

Allen-Young said second and fourth graders are learning about cover crops right now and why they’re important. Students are then able to directly apply that knowledge outside in the garden as do all grade levels.

“This fall, the first graders are learning about seeds and plant parts, so we did seed-saving with them,” she said. “They got to take sunflower heads that had gone to seed, save the seeds and in the spring they’ll get to plant them.”

With the colder weather coming in, there will be less time spent outside in the garden, but students will still be hands-on with the focus shifting to cooking instead.

Allen-Young said students wil be learning things like portions, measuring and knife skills, along with actual cooking.

“They’re making things like kale salad and borscht,” she said. “Just crazy stuff they maybe haven’t gotten to experience.”

A lot of kids might not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, so this is a chance for them to get that, Allen-Young said. She added that if kids eat something out in the garden, they’re much more likely to eat it anywhere else. 

Students are learning gardening and cooking skills, but also about life itself, Allen-Young said. She said the experience of being able to get out of the classroom and get your hands in the dirt is amazing for the kids to have. 

“It’s working on patience and working on teamwork,” she said. “It’s looking at life cycles and sustainability. It’s a lot of specific garden skills, but everything is so interdisciplinary. They’re learning communication, patience and also getting to move their bodies and work in a more hands-on way.”

The curriculum is all about getting kids interested in gardening and cooking while they’re young, the instructor said. She believes getting kids excited about something at a young age helps them stay excited about it when they get older. 

Allen-Young said the kids all have stories and things they want to share and give as a result of the garden and cooking. 

“I think the moments of wonder, where kids are really excited about things, is my favorite part because it reminds me to be excited about the small things in life,” she said. “There’s a lot that’s pretty amazing in this space.”

The garden was begun at Fisher as students prepared to enter a brand-new school building in 2018.