A fresh look at fresh fruits and vegetables

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2014

SALISBURY — Are you sure you know the difference between a vegetable and a fruit? What if I told you something that would blow your mind? That’s how the Rowan-Salisbury School Systems Film @ 6 program started at the Salisbury Farmers’ Market this week.
The answer to the question is that most of the “vegetables” at the market are really fruit.
The Film @ 6 program is designed to help fifth-graders transition to middle school. I was graciously asked to help host one of the days at the Salisbury Farmers’ Market. We had 85 students attend the market and make salsa, learn about crops grown in Rowan County, sample local produce, ask questions about the farmers participating, and learn about farming.
It was definitely a lot of work to put together for a mere two hours, but the joy on the faces of the children was well worth it. Thankfully, everyone pitched in, from the chaperones to the farmers themselves. Everyone helped with the entire program, I was able to get assistance from our local Extension Master Gardeners.
Four middle schools participated in the program — North Rowan, China Grove, Southeast and Corriher- Lipe. Since the students were divided into groups, it made the program run smoothly.
Each group spent 30 minutes per activity. The activities consisted of creating salsa, where the students chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers and even cilantro; performing a scavenger hunt to learn more about what farmers grow and create; competing in a recipe challenge where they have to find all of their ingredients to make a special dish and present their findings to a group of judges; and last, mixing and mingling with the farmers to ask questions and get to see what is in season.
It was truly a fun-filled event where the children learned about agriculture, what fruits and vegetables look like when they are fresh and not from the can, and how to interact with their own age groups as well as farmers from their community.
One thing the adults learned is that sometimes we take for granted that children should know a corn has husks, tomatoes come in different colors, and people still make homemade baked goods. This activity really showed us how much we need to teach our future generations about agriculture. I know we made an impression on the youth we taught.
If you are interested in teaching youth about agriculture, the Salisbury market is a great place to start and now is the perfect time to come! They have delicious sweet corn, cantaloupe, tomatoes, beautiful bouquets, blackberries, blueberries, honey, scrumptious baked goods and so much more.
For more information on the programs being held at the market or if you are interested in having your own group participate in some of our activities, call the Extension office at 704-216-8970. If you want to have your own agriculture adventure, the Salisbury Farmers’ Market is located at 115 S. Jackson St. in Salisbury. It is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon. The China Grove Farmers’ Market is located at the Roller Mill (308 N. Main St., China Grove), and it is open Fridays from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.