ELKHART — Kids can grow all the veggies for pizza toppings or ratatouille and use the fruits of their labor with a real chef during the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
Beginning today, pizza or ratatouille garden kits will be available at Elkhart’s main library branch, the Goshen and Middlebury libraries, Bristol Street Pediatrics, the fair office, Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant on C.R. 17 and Animal Aid South on Mishawaka Road near Concord Mall in Elkhart.
Parents will provide the child’s age and name, as well as their own name, email address and a telephone number when they sign up for the free program.
Dr. Sara Granberg, who organizes Young McDonald’s Farm at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, said the kits are aimed at elementary aged children, but are available up to age 18. There are 75 kits of each kind available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“They will grow their gardens from seeds,” Granberg said.
Each week, kids will log on to the website http://growums.com, where they register their garden, and Veggie characters like Baby Basil, Belle Peppa, Eggbert, Tomas and The Great Zucchini walk them through their garden in a weekly video. “Super cute,” Granberg said.
There are also games and coloring pages on the website.
Dirt clumps with seeds are placed into a shallow pie plate and placed in a sunny window and kept moist until they sprout, Granberg said. Once they grow to a certain size, they are transplanted to pots and eventually to a garden or bigger containers. “I think it will be really cool,” she said.
During the fair, July 23 to 25, kids will bring their veggies and work with local chefs Paul Cataldo of Antonio’s and Zach Lucchese of Lucchese’s to prepare pizza or ratatouille to cook at home. They’ll also be able to sample what the finished dish tastes like.
Granberg said there will be extra vegetables available for kids whose own gardens didn’t work or whose veggies weren’t yet ready.
Planting will have to start soon.
The kids’ gardens, which are not a 4-H project, are an expansion of the fair garden that started last year.
“The goal is basically to educate people where their food comes from,” Granberg said. “How easy it is to grow healthy food. How cheap it is, too.”
The veterinarian said kids will often try something they’ve grown themselves. Even if they don’t like it, they’ll try it, she said.
“My kids will eat anything that they think came from the fair garden,” she said.
For questions on the program contact Dr. Granberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, the fair office at email@example.com, or call 533-3247. She will send email updates closer to the fair with dates and times of cooking classes.
Sponsors of the program are Bristol Street Pediatrics, Bayer Healthcare and Pat and Geryl Hochstedler.