Most parents know children can be picky when it comes to eating vegetables. But for a handful of first and second grade Fremont Elementary School students, being picky can be fun and rewarding.
As part of Fremont's yearlong theme of "Planting a seed, growing a garden, harvesting a future: Fremont teachers are preparing today's child for tomorrow's world", a student representative from each class was chosen to pick vegetables from the school's two courtyard gardens Friday morning.
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The health and wellness committee at Fremont Elementary District 79 in Mundelein has been emphasizing healthy eating in the schools for two years.
A vegetable garden was one idea produced by the committee. The school's food service provider, Quest Food Management Services, provided $250 to purchase the seeds.
Fremont Elementary physical education teacher Kathy Reilly, who has been with the district for 32 years and heads up the garden program, planted vegetables and herbs last June. Tomatoes, green peppers, pumpkins, cucumbers and basil are ready for picking.
The courtyards were selected because they are protected from animals, but still receive essential sun and water.
Reilly said the garden gives teachers and students the opportunity to get involved. It can also be used as an educational tool.
"We can have a better understanding where food comes from," she said.
She said the students truly get into it. They love to pick weeds and look at insects.
First grade student Megan Lenzini said the best part of the garden is "getting to eat stuff". Tomatoes are her favorite because of the color.
Right now, students and teachers are benefiting from the harvest. As the program grows and more people get involved, Reilly said she could see other possible uses for the produce, including the school's lunch program.
Reilly is happy with the start of the program.
"It's fun to see. You put it in and see the results," she said. "It's a good feeling."