Harvest Festivals are year-end activities that allow students to enjoy the fruits of their labor. This year, volunteer Chefs from DUO in the Four Seasons Wailea, Outrigger Pizza Company and Ono Gelato came out to share their skills with students in the garden. Quesadillas, harvest fresh salsa, smoothies, steamed kalo (taro), herb salad, rosemary and lavender lemonade, and ratatouille served on a kalo and ‘ulu (breadfruit) pancake, were some of the fun and unique garden-inspired dishes that the chefs shared. Find some of these recipes here.
While students were eager to try the dishes made from ingredients from their gardens, they hesitated on some of the more unique items. At Kihei Elementary School, many had never tried ratatouille before. To encourage students to try it, we started having them be part of the assembly process. Each student got a piece of pancake, and served their own ratatouille, as much, or as little as they wanted, over the pancake. This simple bit of engagement made them feel like they were part of creating the dish, and they were less intimidated to try it. When they did, they loved it!
Similarly, at Pomaika ‘i Elementary School in Kahului, the first class of students to participate in the Harvest Festival was hesitant to try the kalo (taro), with only about 10% tasting it. For the second class, teachers asked students to serve it to their classmates. With this small change, participation in the tasting skyrocketed, with over 80% of students tasting the kalo.
Meanwhile, at Kamali’i Elementary School in Kihei, students loaded on the veggies without hesitation when it was their turn to make quesadillas. Did having a hand in creating their meal make a difference? We think so.
In the end, teachers, chefs, and garden coordinators saw the importance of having students involved in the food preparation and serving process. By having them try a dish they had served themselves, or having the encouragement of their classmates, students weren’t as fearful to try something new. They enjoyed their schools’ Harvest Festival events as a way to taste new foods and celebrate the ending of a successful school year.
Parents and caregivers can also learn from this experience. Having your child select produce from a local farmer’s market is the first step. Letting them help prepare the dish, and then serve it to family members, can have a big impact and get the whole family to try eating healthier foods.