We can do something in and around the garden that does not happen in the classroom often enough: capture attention with a moment of pleasant surprise. Take, for example, what happens when we offer a taste of leaves and stems from a live plant.
Some students, of course, cheerfully pop the greens in their mouths. Many others, however, step back and convey discomfort. Some ask, “Are you sure it’s safe?”
We are mostly so separated from our food sources that we look askance at produce that isn’t sheathed in plastic. But that’s why a moment with a flash of delight is worth creating. With the quick surprise, which sometimes produces a “that was okay,” we can create a bit of human connection. We can defuse some of the suspicion that so many students and teachers have for each other. By building some trust first, we can set the stage for the harder conversations.
Those moments of pleasant surprises occur when kids see worms, figure out which way is north or south, or just see a tiny seedling develop into a sturdy mature plant. But tastings are often the best.
Pea shoots are a particular favorite for growing for quick tasting. They’re really easy to grow indoors, even without a lot of light. And the stems and leaves taste just like the more familiar fresh pea plant seeds – AKA peas – in just a week or two from sowing. So we grow them again and again. And we are always looking for another opportunity to offer a taste.