i-Three Issue Corps – Kids, Compost, Crops, and Consumption – Part II

The Kids, Compost, Crops & Consumption team from North Dakota State University Extension aims to increase youth involvement in the food cycle. The target outcomes include: 1) increasing students’ knowledge about agriculture and where their food comes from, 2) increasing vegetable consumption among students and 3) teaching students how to garden as an economical option for fresh food. The project timeline was December 2015-May 2016. Each month from December thru May a new lesson was presented to 85 3rd and 4th grade urban students. In this post, we will share the last 2 lessons as well as the final review lesson. To read about the first 3 lessons see our previous blog post.

Lesson 4: Increasing Vegetable Production – Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulture Agent/Cass County

Lesson 4 was about teaching the kids that vegetables and fruits have different appearances and grow on different parts of the plants from each other.  Most of the students recognized the majority of the vegetables and fruits brought in, but not all of them.  The “life cycle” of Photosynthesis was taught in addition to the Macro-nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  They discussed the difference between tap versus fibrous root systems.  A “game” involving movement was incorporated to help encourage exercise.

Lesson 5: Plants as Food – Nikki Johnson, Area Extension Specialist, Community Health and Nutrition

The last puzzle piece to our food cycle was put into place during our April lesson. Up to this point, our students have learned all about where their food comes from, how it grows, what it needs to grow and all that was left was nutrition. Students spent the day learning how different colors of fruits and vegetables provide us with different nutrients, such as phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. To do this, we had students break into teams and work together trying to figure out what how each color group helps to keep our body stronger.

Group learning.

Then we wrapped up our session by taste testing a spinach and pepper quesadilla – it was a hit!

Nikki preparing the spinach and pepper quesadillas.
Nikki preparing the spinach and pepper quesadillas.

Lesson 6: The Wrap-Up

Our closing class finally arrived the last week of school and we couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sun was shining, preparation was complete, our helping hands were in place, and teachers and students alike were ready for our big event. Luckily to start our session off, students fired off answers for our Kids, Crops, Compost and Consumption review questions and we were able to move onto the surprise portion of the afternoon. Our first activity was a planting demonstration using handmade garden boxes and spinach seeds. While everyone was simply happy to be outside playing in the soil.

Students getting a glimpse of the garden boxes.
Students getting a glimpse of the garden boxes.

Next up was a bit of Cha-Cha-ing with NDSU’s very own Thundar.

Thundar getting the kids ready for some dancing.
Thundar getting the kids ready for some dancing.

Then we sampled a couple of amazing spinach dishes.


And finally, we sent home each child with a garden box of their own! Year one of KCCC was a success!