Opinion: Project Pickle encountering frozen soil with warm hearts

Hacking away at frozen soil is not a usual occurrence when I make my rounds with my young farming buddies in Project Pickle, but that’s what we’ve been doing of late.

I stress to the kids that part of farming is taking risk and we are certainly doing that right now. They just want to be outside regardless, and so do I, so it’s all good. The radish and peas that we are planting right now might not take but that’s OK, we will try again if that happens.

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I always bring a big bowl of what we are planting so the children can taste what we plant prior to the seeds going into the ground. They also get to enjoy that taste - a better one - after the crop is ready to harvest.

I have noted this before but it is worth noting again that there are children in Delta who are hungry. It is not widespread but it is a reality. When I see kids that are insatiable when a bowl of radish is presented to them, you know something is up.

I try my best to spark the desire to grow your own with Project Pickle and I hope the children will encourage their parents and families to put that little raised bed in the backyard or planter box on the patio to grow their own vegetables, so they can treat themselves to the growing experience and the unmistakable pleasure of eating something they have nurtured.

Growing your own food is a rewarding experience and it is not a lot of work. When I see hungry kids in our midst it makes me sad yet inspired at the same time. I know who they are and I make best efforts to talk to them on my visits just to check and see if they are OK. I have a special bond with these kids and I must admit that I give them priority “Farmer Mike” consideration in the group dynamic.

If given the opportunity, these are the kids that would eat the whole bowl of my offerings.

On Tuesday we were planting some snap peas a little early just to see what happens. Everyone got to grab a fist full to snack on but one of my Grade 3 buddies put his in his coat pocket to bring home for his mom and little sister. Wow! That is a reality that we do not often collectively see. I see it every day unfortunately.

Canada recently released its new food guide and it is definitely worth the time to check out. You can see it at food-guide.canada.ca.

It follows the “half your plate” mantra and asks for that plate to be half full of fruit and vegetables and a quarter each of proteins and whole grains.

Parents and families lead busy lives and accomplishing these plate expectations can be daunting in terms of preparation time and certainly in terms of cost. We are very fortunate to live where we do, but there are challenges facing many families in Delta.

It may not be obvious but if you notice a child in our midst that may have need, reach out if you can. Ask them if they are OK and help out if you can.

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.

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