4-H, kids, culinary arts and veggies

Members of the Barry County F3 ENERGY! 4-H Club are learning about nutrition education and the culinary arts, while growing fresh vegetables to sell locally to restaurants or at farm markets.

 Members of the Barry County F3 ENERGY! 4-H Club are learning about nutrition education and the culinary arts, while growing fresh vegetables to sell locally to restaurants or at farm markets. This year, 19 members and 7 volunteers are growing vegetables at 3 continuing garden sites located at Southeastern Elementary School in Hastings, Faith United Methodist Church in Delton and MOO-ville in Nashville. There is also a new pilot site at the Barry Community Enrichment Center in Hastings. Growing the produce

The project expanded last year, when members from the Southeastern School site made a connection with a new restaurant that likes to feature local foods. The Seasonal Grille in Hastings, purchased produce from the club members. During the course of the project, Justin Straube the Seasonal Grille owner and head chef, Cooking Competition participantgave participants a tour of the kitchen and talked to them about how he planned to use their vegetables.

This year the partnership has grown. Not only is the Seasonal Grille purchasing produce, Chef Justin is teaching a series of 6 culinary classes to 25 4-H members in partnership with MSU Extension Educator Laura Anderson who is teaching nutrition education and Kathy Pennington 4-H program coordinator.  4-H members from the Cooking Competition, held at the fair, and from the entrepreneurship program were also invited to attend the classes. The educational series includes lessons in restaurant sanitation, safety and dining etiquette, presentation, flavor, taste-bud senses, knife skills, menu planning, nutrition education, advanced food production and how to make money. Also included in the class presentations will be guest speaker and former, long-time Barry County 4-H member, Jared Lindberg, who just received a college scholarship from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Throughout the classes, participants have been working hard to plan a menu - with an international flare - to serve as the educational series’ finale. The 4-course meal, which will use as many fresh vegetables from their gardens as possible, will feature an:

  • Hispanic appetizer a salsa trio (spicy, mild or sweet) with plantain or pita chips for dipping
  • Asian salad fresh cabbage rolls with vegetable stuffing
  • Italian main course (Festa Pollo Linguini, an original recipe designed by the participants) with ingredients that include chicken, beans, cabbage, green peppers, onions, squash, tomatoes, whole wheat pasta, olive oil, basil and lemon juice
  • American dessert deep-fried apple pie with homemade caramel-pecan ice cream. 

Learning to serveThis dinner will be a fundraiser held at the Seasonal Grille September 12 with tickets on sale to the public. 4-H members named the event “Local Flavor Fest” and the tag line “Let 4-H Rock Your Palate” will be printed on the promotional materials. Throughout the evening, the participants will job shadow and assist with all the duties involved in running the restaurant and they will make a short presentation to their guests about their 4-H experience. 

This phenomenal opportunity for middle-school youth has taken the hands-on educational experience the members received in their gardening, business and culinary 4-H projects, incorporated new learning about nutrition and the science of taste, and combined them with career education for a great 4-H presentation to the public. For more information about this program or to join Barry County F3 ENERGY! 4-H Club, contact Kathy Pennington.


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