Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.

What Doesn’t “Kale” You, Makes You Stronger

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harvesting kale

weighing kale



stamp sized pieces


eating kale salad

yummy kale

Westminster School summer campers were given the full experience of making massaged kale salad (see recipe, previous post). We had a harvest crew out in the garden early enough to beat the blistering heat. They knew that we were making four times the recipe so they needed 4 pounds of kale. I chose the smooth rather than the curly leaf kale. Children had to figure out how to subtract the weight of the basket from the weight of the scale as they piled on their leaves. Afterward, we brought the kale inside, where it was washed and de-ribbed before being cut into postage stamp pieces. (We donated the tough ribs to Snorty, our principal’s pig.) By the way, with correct instruction and supervision, children are easily able to use knives for this project.
The next fun part was reading the rest of the recipe. One of our campers multiplied fractions like 1/3, by 4 and then the measurers were off, adding olive oil, lemon juice and soy sauce to the bowl of chopped kale. I roasted the seeds at home to save time. We took our kale salad outside for the massaging, and we timed campers as they worked their gloved hands through it, breaking down the kale fibers. 10 minutes and we were done~~although there were plenty of campers who could have kept going. The final touch was the addition of three peeled, sectioned and chunked oranges. The sweet orangey flavor provides just the right contrast to the salty, sesame sourness of the rest of the ingredients. Campers lined up to taste their creation. When introducing new foods there can’t be anything more important than direct participation in their assemblage. Participation = appreciation. There is one more helpful addition to new food introduction: a willing adult or child skilled in drama to make a huge big deal of how goood that first bite was. Some children asked for 5th helpings! I consider this first foray into kale eating a great success. Next on the menu: kale chips!


Author: vermontschoolgarden

I have been an elementary teacher at the Westminster Center School for 30 years. For most of those years, I maintained a garden as part of my teaching curriculum resource. Now I am the Garden Coordinator for all of the Westminster Center School classrooms.

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