“When kids get their hands in the ground, planting and then pulling out fresh-grown carrots, those carrots take on a whole new meaning,” Candace Maddin says.
Rallying around Maddin’s mantra, a small-but-growing group of local chefs is eager to teach kids how to grow, harvest and cook their own food. First they have to change some perceptions.
“Kids think food is grown in the grocery store,” she says.
Last November, Maddin co-founded Create a Change Now, a nonprofit group that teaches kids about food and nutrition. Luciano Pellegrini and Alessandro Stoppa of Valentino, Adam Sobel of RM Seafood, Kuldeep Singh of Origin India and Culinary Training Academy instructor Sterling Burpee are among the chefs working with Change Now.
Thomas Trevethan, a pastry chef at the Paris resort, is also involved, and recently went to Washington, D.C. to work with White House head chef Sam Kass on a project called Chefs Move to Schools. The program is part of Let’s Move, first lady Michelle Obama’s plan to fight obesity.
“Our children’s generation is in trouble, in terms of living an overall healthy lifestyle, and changes need to be made now,” says Trevethan, himself a father of four.
Create a Change Now hopes to develop two “edible gardens”—crops of fruits, nuts and vegetables—at local schools. Before its members can do that, however, they need money—about $5,000 to build a 100-by-60-foot raised garden at Rose Warren Elementary. The land is available—“They’ve got a wonderful, large plot of land that they’re not using,” Maddin says—but the school needs a financial boost to get the garden going.
“We’d like to do a nice, cool-weather planting in the fall of lettuce, spinach, beets, celery and cauliflower,” Maddin says. “The staff is very eager for us to orchestrate some planting there, and we have chefs who are eager to get into the schools. They can teach the children how to prepare good-tasting food that they have grown, and we are hoping to have chefs in the classroom every other week.”
Create a Change Now is also hoping to make improvements to a garden at Gene Ward Elementary, but that will take an additional $5,000 in donations.
Visit createachangenow.org for more information.