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the vines. If they look carefully, soon they see small squash forming where
some of the flowers are attached to the vine. As the green squash get bigger,
the children notice stripes on the zucchini. If they touch the leaves or vines,
they notice they are a little bit prickly. They wait and watch. Time must pass.
The children begin to understand time in a new way. Food is not automatic; it
is slow to develop. Finally, they can pick the zucchini. They explore methods
to cook and eat it. They prepare the squash different ways—steamed, baked
zucchini sticks and zucchini bread. They may compare zucchini picked at dif-
ferent sizes and learn that the smaller zucchini is tender, while the squash that
gets too large is tough.
Research has indicated that children who grow their own vegetables,
engage in cooking activities, and are repeatedly exposed to the same vegetables
over a period of time show an increase in preference for those vegetables
(Kalich, Bauer, and McPartlin 2009). Gardening connects children to food in
a way nothing else can. They made the food happen. They know whether it
came from the root or the stem of a plant. They know about the flower that
bloomed before the vegetable grew. They washed off the insects that tried to
eat the leaves of the plant or built a fence to keep the rabbits away. They know
the food intimately. They are more likely to try this food than they are some-
thing that just popped up on their plate. With repeated exposure to foods they
have grown themselves, children are more willing to eat them and more likely
to prefer their taste.
Why Garden? • 13