EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Fifth grade students at Anne Hutchinson Elementary School in Eastchester were taught how to grow their own food, and then cook it, as teacher Dave O’Neil used the school’s sustainable garden to instruct his students.
The students took a short field trip from the classroom to the garden, picking their own basil, tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic, which they used to make fresh pesto that was then put over spaghetti and eaten for lunch.
“We had a ton of basil, so I decided that we should try pesto. We grew the garlic; all I had to buy was the olive oil and [parmesan] cheese,” O’Neil, who is in charge of the garden, said. “We do a lot of cooking in this class, it’s a popular project. We made chili, bruschetta and a turkey soup last year.”
O’Neil incorporated several subjects into the project, particularly math and science. The kids were given the recipe for the pesto, and had to figure out how to multiply the ingredients for larger portions. He also taught them the basics of science while they were at the garden, instructing them about various aspects of the life cycle.
“I feel like if you can take a subject, and make it more interesting, then you’re doing a good job,” he said. “We’re able to incorporate math and science, and it’s just a good life skill to learn at a young age.”
Students were joined by parents and younger siblings in the classroom, who helped them sort the good basil leaves from the bad and offered O’Neil a hand. The students were only a few minutes into the process before other teachers started poking their head in the door to see what the delicious smell was.
“The most important thing is to continue incorporating math and science into the process,” O’Neil said. “I also hope to instill a love of sustainability in these kids at a young age.”