One Step Garden closes 4th year

Published 11:01 am Sunday, August 21, 2016

A good indication that something is working is hearing feedback, and for Hy-Vee dietitian Courtney Kremer, that comes in the form of zucchini from the One Step Garden.

One of the kids taking part in this year’s garden, which completed its fourth year on Wednesday, told Kremer how much he or she had come to love zucchini — and that impact has stayed with Kremer through the entirety of the program.

“I was just blown away,” she said with a laugh.

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It’s all part of the garden’s many goals, which include not only getting kids eating healthier but to open up their minds to the foods that are out there.

“We’re teaching kids about nutrition, where their foods come from and how they are produced,” Kremer said.

The garden takes kids — this year from the YWCA’s Y Summer Daze Program and Kids Korner — through all aspects of a garden from the planting, through the growing year and into harvest.

It helps them become intimately attached to those things they are consuming. It was a way to open their minds further to the world of food.

“We would prepare a recipe using food from the garden every class and that that’s when they were most willing to try something new,” Kremer said.

In each class, the kids would toil happily away in the garden and that kind of interaction followed them into the store. It was just another hope of Kremer’s that working in the One Step Garden would carry over into their day-to-day life.

“Now, when they come to the store and look for peppers and carrots, they know where they come from,” she said.

It’s also something that can carry over into the every day eating and cooking habits at home in the way of getting them to think more about their food.

“I hope that when mom or dad put down a plate of spaghetti it gets them thinking, ‘Okay, there are tomatoes in this, where did the come from. Or the spices,’” Kremer said.

Of the activities involved taking a cue from the Food Network’s “Chopped,” a show that pits four chefs against each other using the ingredients from mystery baskets and then getting judged by other chefs.

In Hy-Vee’s version, “Cropped,” kids worked with chefs from the community. They were given $35 to use in the store, but they had to use two items from the garden.

“The kids were all about it,” Kremer said. “The kids got really creative and I think they did expand their horizon more.”

Kremer noticed that a lot of the feedback she got from parents were “thank-yous,” for opening their minds through the garden.

“I noticed things like, ‘My kids are wanting to help more in the kitchen or even the garden,’” Kremer said.

It’s also gotten Kremer more excited about the future growth of the garden and its tie to the new store, even if there is a little mystery to next year.

With Hy-Vee currently building a new Austin store at the former Oak Park Mall location, Kremer wonders about the location of the new garden or even if they will have to take a year off.

But there was no doubt: The garden will return.

“There will be a garden,” Kremer said.