Gardening program lets kids play with their food while learning about nutrition

A North Texas charter school is giving students the chance to learn how to grow and prepare their own food.

Independence Gardens has a curriculum for sixth grade students in various schools.

Working with local chefs, they learn about the specific vegetables grown, including nutritional content and various ways to prepare them.

On Friday, students worked in the garden at Trivium Academy in Carrollton. They picked kale and squash and made a meal using the fresh ingredients.

The founder of the program is proud of the hands-on approach benefiting children.

"Kids learn when they have fun.  And so what we've built here is an outdoor learning space where it's actually like a playground for them. And they get to play with their food but at the same time they get to learn about science, technology, art and nutrition, right? And so they get to connect with that food and therefore they're more apt to make heathier food choices when they grow up," said Chonnie Riley, the founder of Independence Gardens.

There is a fundraiser event happening this weekend at the Grandscape in The Colony. The public is invited for chef tastings, drinks, music and a silent auction.

Summer Kale & Goat Cheese Salad with Floral Cheong Syrup

Servings: 4

Floral Cheong Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 springs of mint
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 Rose petals - washed and dried
  • 3 slices of mandarin oranges (peel included)

Add all ingredients in a mason jar. Mix. Keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks until the sugar mixture develops into a syrup. 

Kale Salad & Goat Cheese 

  • 6 - 7 Kale Leaves - chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 cup grapes tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 1 nectarine - slice into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 dollops of goat cheese
  • Pecans for garnish (optional)
  • Watermelon for garnish
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Pear balsamic vinegar (or you can use juice from 1 orange & lime( combined)
  • Drizzle of Cheong syrup
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Start the vinaigrette. In a small bow, mix extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper to taste. Set aside. 

In a separate bowl, mix chopped kale, grape tomatoes, and nectarines. Mix in the vinaigrette. Add pecans. Mix into the salad. 

Evenly distribute the salad into 4 plates. Top with a dollop of goat cheese. Drizzle the Cheung Syrup and garnish with a sliver of watermelon. 

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