A summer of Sprouts

Published 10:46 am Friday, August 26, 2011

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Youngsters harvest gardens

The Garden Sprouts reaped what they sewed Thursday.

After two months of growing as little gardeners, the group of students ages 3-9 got to celebrate the fruits of their efforts through one last presentation to parents and the community.

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“It has been very successful,” said Jen Haugen, Hy-Vee dietician. Haugen and other Hy-Vee workers taught the Sprouts day-long class throughout the summer.

The Sprouts’ taste in vegetables grew, too. Most Sprouts couldn’t tell the difference between an apple and a tomato at first, according to Haugen. That changed after a few veggie identification games.

All the nutritious talk has paid off, it seems.

“They want to tell me what they’ve been eating,” Haugen said.

Of course, the Sprouts didn’t just eat things all day.

“It’s been pretty amazing,” said Chelsey Nelson, dietician intern. Nelson helped teach the Sprouts things like harvesting and planting.

Those lessons paid off for Ali Portz, 6.

“It was fun,” Ali said. “(I liked) harvesting stuff. Because then I got to eat it!”

The Garden Sprouts class is the first child nutrition class offered at Hy-Vee, the culmination of nine months’ effort and Haugen’s ambition to provide nutrition lessons to younger students.

Instead of kids spending all day at daycare, they spend time in a day camp atmosphere, according to Terri Wermager, community education coordinator with Austin Public Schools. She, Haugen and several others helped the kids with what would be an all-around learning experience. Along with planting the gardens, the kids learned how to maintain the plants, pick ripe vegetables, keep detailed journals, spell words they’ve never seen and try vegetables they’ve never tasted. The program also included some cooking instructions, which parents who attended say are going over well at home.

The squash pancakes were a big hit earlier this week, according to Hy-Vee workers.

“They wanted four servings of it,” Nelson said.