This morning, while teachers began the important process of meeting with the parents of each child, I planted onions. They are the small type called I’itoi Multiplier Onions and have been grown by the O’odam people in southern Arizona for centuries. My backyard garden at home is loaded with them, so I thought I’d share the bounty with each classroom garden. As parents came and went, I moved from garden to garden, finding a space for each little onion. What’s amazing about these onions is that you plant one tiny onion and in not-so-long-of-a-time, that little onion becomes a whole cluster. Each time I harvest a cluster, I remove one onion and return it to the earth. It’s definitely a plant that keeps on giving.
For the past four months, we have been working as a staff to create a website about food. It began as a reflection on our practices with food, in particular if they are developmentally appropriate. We met as a staff and read an excellent article called “The Impact of Teachers and Families on Young Children’s Eating Behaviors” by Erin K. Eliassen http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/Eliassen_0.pdf. We could see early on that this was more than a one time discussion. The layers of meaning around food kept revealing themselves as we continued our discussion. Initially, I started writing a short pamphlet about our school food policies and practices, based on our staff meeting conversations. But it soon became evident that it was much broader in scope and one teacher suggested a website.
Once the website idea surfaced, the whole project expanded. A discussion about food practices at lunch time evolved into an all-inclusive site that contains the Seed’s nutrition mission, our food policy, a definition of “growing food,” lunch ideas, a monthly blog that will include guest bloggers, the seeds of our upcoming nutrition curriculum called “Eat Like a Dinosaur,” a list of resources for parents, recommendations for lunch containers, and a section on recipes we’re hoping to expand from our school community members. It’s an organic document ready to be examined, enjoyed, and grown by Seed families and teachers, as well as those beyond the school who find their way to the site.
In many ways our seedfood (http://seedfood.awakeningseedschool.org) website is like this morning’s little onions. From one small conversation about food at school, a bigger conversation can grow, at the Seed and beyond. We welcome your participation, on behalf of your children and families, as we all work together to nurture ourselves and our planet.