Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great Grant, Great Taste, Great Nutrition!

One of the easiest but perhaps most diverse type of gardens for any age gardener is an herb garden. As anyone who has ever planted mint in an outdoor bed can tell you ... there are actually some plants that will grow like crazy, even if you don't want them to! Many herbs are vigorous growers even in small pots, even on a window sill during winter, or under a small grow-light.

So it seems usually something that easy would fall short in some other category, like taste or nutritional value. Not this time!

What would summer tomatoes be without fresh basil? Did you know lurking in all that yumminess is beta-carotene, potassium, iron, and magnesium, just to name a few health benefits of basil?

Personally, I wasn't crazy about fresh green beans ... until someone introduced me to summer savory. The fact that savory is a source of the B-complex group vitamins is a total bonus!

Herbs aren't just a delicious staple in seasoning our favorite foods or making not-so-favorite foods bearable. Many herbs contain unique anti-oxidants, essential oils, vitamins, phyto-sterols, and much more.

So starting an herb garden in your classroom, childcare center, or after-school program has some pretty powerful appeal: almost guaranteed success, a wide-variety of flavors and ways to use in a meal, nutrition ... and for 4 lucky classrooms, the Donald Samull Classroom will provide $200 in "seed money"!

Check out this grant opportunity for 3rd - 6th grade classes:

And here's a great listing of school garden grant sources, graciously compiled by the San Diego Master Gardener Association:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Got Dirt? vs. Got a can opener?

Can you imagine … if you had only ever tasted commercially canned asparagus, would garlic risotto with roasted asparagus or zucchini and ricotta fritters with roasted garlic aioli sound at all tempting? I’m sure there are some home-canners out there who can do this vegetable justice. However, thinking about the vast differences in texture, color and flavor between fresh vs. canned for this one vegetable makes me realize how lucky I am to have been exposed to “garden fresh” since I was a little kid.

My name is Lisa Kay Peters, and I recently joined the staff at the UW Extension in Green Bay as the Marketing Coordinator for Got Dirt? Looking back, I’m so grateful that my grandmother and mom got me involved in flower and vegetable gardening. And Mom, you’ll be especially glad to hear this … I’m glad my parents made me try different veggies at dinner!

This program is so exciting! Although school gardens are "old school", having been in existence for over a century, we can’t forget that all the technology kids have access to today doesn’t trump or replace the powers of Mother Nature. Watching a seemingly lifeless seed sprout and grow into food is pretty awe-inspiring the first time for everyone. My friend, Molly, started her first small home garden last year. To watch a thirty-something get downright giddy over seeing seeds sprout and turn into carrots she plucked and ate – well, my reaction was to giggle and ask “Good grief, didn’t you grow a bean in a cup in school?”

Turns out, she hadn’t.

I’m very much looking forward to working with you to get the Got Dirt? training and support out to Wisconsin classrooms again this year. Let’s give kids as many healthy choices as we can, and put the power of creation in their hands. Right now we’re looking for Master Gardeners and others with horticultural experience to commit to hosting teacher training sessions in your area. Please contact me at or 920.391.4655 if you can help!