St. Paul’s farmer teaches kids how to grow food

Elementary school students from the Hmong American Partnership in St. Paul used crayons and pencils to focus on the pages in front of them, including leeks, purple cabbage, and pale yellow bitter melons. summer.

Giving young children vegetables and fruits means they are much more likely to eat them into adulthood, and Minnesota’s program maximizes that knowledge in a culturally sensitive way. We are working to make it

The Hmong American Farmers Association and the local nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy partnered to deliver crates of fresh vegetables to home-based early childhood care centers on St. Paul’s East Side and invite children to the farm. I am learning about growing food.

Food will be delivered as well as other community supported farming (CSA) will send the boxes to 15 home improvement centers located in areas where many Hmong farmers live.

Lillian Han knew her family’s farm provided food for her children. I hadn’t seen how it could even help children learn until there was a Shake to Make Butter event.

“Everyone deserves healthy food, so it’s pretty cool to say, ‘Healthy food isn’t just for adults, it’s for kids too.

With the help of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Centers for Prevention, early care providers receive a free CSA box upon registration. This initiative supports local farmers and helps put children on the path to healthy eating.

“We’re working on that period when children are really developing their own taste buds, preferences and eating habits, which they will carry on for the rest of their lives,” says Mackie Vansroten.

The program was launched during the pandemic but will be expanded this summer to include more engagement with families, including educational visits from farmers.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the majority of Minnesota infants, toddlers, and children ages 3 to 5 regularly participate in childcare. This is where the children get most of her daily nutrition, according to VanSlooten.

During the first 1,000 days of life in children, key taste preferences are formed that are influenced by the feeding environment, maternal diet, nutritional quality, and interactions between children and their caregivers, according to the Ministry of Health. a spokesperson said.

Through this partnership, children can learn where food is grown in Minnesota and the people who grow it, said Jansen Han, executive director and co-founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association. said. At an early age, children have the idea that food comes from the grocery store.

Like other summer CSA boxes, the collaboration runs from June through Thanksgiving. Boxes contain 8-15 different produce. Hang says children love vegetables commonly found in Hmong cuisine, such as lemongrass, mustard his greens, and pumpkin flowers.

“They have staples, but we introduce other things they don’t like, like the herbs coriander and dill,” Hung said. I feel

Farmers are always looking for ways to use their food to improve their communities, and everyone is excited to see fresh produce on their tables, he said.

“Our success has been incremental, but one of the things we always like to do is look back and report and look back and think, ‘Wow, the impact and the magnitude of the program and the impact it will have. Thank you to our community members here,” said Hang.

The program is recruiting the next group of home early care centers to work with this summer as soon as the vegetables begin to grow.

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