How to get kids to eat their veggies - grow them themselves!
Pea shoots grown via online programming, 2020, when students were learning at home.
We've been having a lot of fun running Pea Shoot programs with students, and figuring out how to scale up the program to get more microgreens into student snacks and lunches. While COVID-19 has prevented many schools from offering fresh, unpackaged foods, some are finding a way. And the Pea Shoot Kit program allows each child to create their own snack in a cup, so it's pretty pandemic-proof, whether students are in school or not.
Pea Shoot Kits
The kit contains seeds, soil and a cup, and maybe some crayons. Kids draw a picture on the cup - could be a face, could be anything they like, but it helps later on to know whose is whose. During the online program, or in person if we can, kids follow instructions to put a hole in the bottom of the cup for drainage (with some explanation of why this is needed), fill the cup with soil, and spread a layer of seeds right on top. With pea shoots, you don't need to bury the seed - you just cover the soil with the seed and water, water and water.
About the seed - we source it in bulk from an organic grower. It's bred for sprouting, so it does not produce the tendrils that a seed from the grocery store would. The name of the seed is Speckled Pea and the supplier is Mumm's Sprouting Seeds. You could grow some out to maturity and harvest the seeds, but you'd need a fair amount of land to get the quantity you'd want for another round of sprouts. But it could be fun to try! Peas are a natural boost to soils, because they (and many plants in the legume family) partner with a microorganism that fixes atmospheric nitrogen in the root zone, making it available to other plants growing nearby.
Here's a day by day shot from a classroom:
You can see that by Day 10, they start getting floppy. When you cut them, they will come again, a second time for sure, and maybe even a third time if the conditions are right (enough water and light). They will grow on a windowsill - remember to turn them. They should not dry out, so put a tray underneath and water every day or two, depending on how dry or sunny the windowsill is.
In 2020 and 2021, we ran a lot of Pea Shoot programs, including some after school as well. We incorporated a second session: once the shoots have grown, it's time to eat them! We added in some nutrition info and talked about mindful eating - savouring every bite.
We also grow the pea shoots in trays for bulk eating. Trays require good light - and will produce enough shoots for up to 100 students. We are offering a program for school snacks and lunches as soon as it's safe to do so, where we will provide a tray or more to each participating school, grown under our grow-lights and delivered or picked up within the 10 days. The program includes a how-to harvest and store the pea shoots - they keep very well in containers in the fridge.
They can be served on top of the hot lunch, although we don't advise cooking them - they would be stringy and not so crunchy and appetizing! Here, a school popped them on top of the Tacos served at lunch, with good reviews!
Here's a shot from under the lights at our office at Daniels Spectrum. These trays went to a school for a celebration in their garden on December 14, the last day of school before the break.
Pea shoots on the move!
For more info email us! info (at) greenthumbsto.org