Kudos to Delta council for passing the backyard chicken bylaw recently. Thanks also to resident Kristin Roberts who has been working hard to promote the idea to me and fellow Agricultural Advisory Committee members.
Roberts is also a bee keeper and tends the hives at the Farm Roots farm. Recently, she purchased a portable hive and was able to bring it to one of the schools on Earth Day to talk all things bees and pollination with my Project Pickle kids. The kids all got to taste the delicious honey right of the hive.
Last week was cucumber week at school farms across the region and 1,200 Marketmore cucumber seed were planted into seed trays and delivered to the greenhouse to sit for a few weeks. In last week’s lessons we talked about greenhouses, the greenhouse business in Delta, growing mediums and why some vegetables stand a better chance of survival if planted as seedlings.
As usual, we tasted what we planted, and about six dozen cucumbers were consumed in “Farmer Mikes’ most excellent cucumber salad”, which was served from the back of my pick-up truck. Peeled Marketmore cucumbers, white wine vinegar, pink salt and chopped basil takes no time to make and it is simple and delicious. With a little more vinegar at home, a jar of these delicacies makes a great quick pickle that will last several days in the fridge.
With the Mother’s Day weekend approaching, I asked the young farmers to consider making the salad at home to help out their families in the kitchen. As I write today (May 11) I am happy to report that several of them did just that. Many of the children from grades one to seven enjoyed the experience and were happy to share their pride with me and their teachers.
This week’s culinary adventure revolves around Arugula.
Arugula is super easy to grow and is delicious on pizza, in soup, and in any salad combination you can possibly imagine. Originally from the Mediterranean region, its nutty, peppery taste is unique and provides an excellent opportunity to teach young people about palette matching and avoiding emptying the ranch jar all over vegetables. I use sliced strawberries as the balance for serving this salad.
Teachers and assistants use gloves to hand out a couple of strawberry slices and a few sprigs of baby Arugula. The kids are instructed to put both in their mouth at the same time and chow down.
I have been amazed over the years watching kids who have never heard of Arugula enjoy this sweet and savory combo.
Growing vegetables at home, keeping bees, and now chickens, can afford families and children incredible learning opportunities for life skill development that will most certainly be passed on to future generations.
Mike Schneider is founder of Project Pickle and likes to write about growing, cooking and eating food. He is a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador.