HAPPY Fall, Y’all!
Leaves are falling and autumn is calling, pretty colors fill the air. It’s time for hoodies, flannel, sweaters, and football. It doesn’t matter which Iowa team you cheer for, we all "root" (pun intended) for our Iowa farmers!!
One way to show your support is to participate in Iowa Local Food Day on October 11th. I plan on participating in this event. At Little Steps and Beyond Daycare, we will be serving local foods for all meals and snacks that day. I will also have the kids help prepare some of the recipes we will use. I have learned through Farm to ECE that finding and purchasing local foods isn’t as daunting or expensive as I once thought. I am fortunate enough to have a productive garden and I have made some connections with local farmers to get produce to freeze so we can have local foods during months when it’s a little harder to find. It’s a great way to teach the kids that you can preserve all the garden goodness and enjoy it later. Farmers markets are winding down, but there is an abundance of squash and apples (instead of greens) to purchase. If you have extra tomatoes, turn them into tomato sauce and freeze, or just freeze to make into other things later.
For our menus this week, we will be featuring our own garden grown tomatoes. Our menu will include the following: fresh tomato tart, tomato and basil soup (with grilled cheese made with local cheeses), bruschetta, homemade noodles with our own homemade pasta sauce, ratatouille (made with produce from our garden) and pork carnitas with our homemade BBQ sauce. We will also incorporate eggs, green beans, carrots, beets, corn, apples, and pears into the mix this week. The kids will make bread, butter, and jam. There are some wonderful books to read about where our food comes from (and I don’t mean a can) and how it gets to our lunchbox, such as this one.
Be sure to register your program to participate in Local Food Day! If we all buy local foods, our community can’t lose.
A note about the author: Hi, I'm Anita Schuckert, the owner of Little Steps and Beyond Daycare and After School Program in Iowa City, IA. My program focuses on gardening, cooking, nutrition, outdoor activity, and family involvement . The children and parents LOVE it!! The older children help plan the logistics of the garden, and everyone has a voice in what we plant. All the children help plant the seeds and plants (even the one year olds). Each child has their own “garden” to plant their favorite veggie to take home. We do almost all of our gardening in containers and some are quite creative! We have strawberries in a plastic pool, peas in an over the door shoe holder and potatoes in laundry baskets. Every year, our garden gets bigger and bigger! This year, we are growing up! Literally! We are experimenting with a potato tower and have built risers for more space for our deck boxes. A couple of school age girls are learning how to clone plants and have been very successful. One of the girls wanted to try some hydroponic gardening. We made a very simple one that is on the kitchen table, and it works! Growing garden goodness, preparing new and yummy food, singing silly songs, and enjoying the great outdoors are what we are all about. My favorite questions…”Do you think we can…?” or “What would happen if we…?” If we don’t allow them to try, they may never find out why.