Salad was on the menu for every student at Conestoga Elementary School this week — but not just any salad. This dish was made entirely of ingredients grown by students just outside the school walls.
The kale, spinach, leaf lettuces, peas, carrots, spring onions, radishes and strawberries were planted, nurtured, harvested, washed and prepared by the students in Conestoga’s Diggers Discovery Garden.
Students in every grade got to sample the salad as part of the inaugural Spring Salad Extravaganza, which culminated Tuesday with a salad-making demonstration by Bill Scepansky, a local chef dedicated to helping students, parents and teachers incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their everyday practices.
After the demonstration, students sampled the homegrown salad, topped with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Not everyone was a fan, but there were many converts who had never eaten a garden salad before.
The event gave students the opportunity “to see the whole process of growing food, from seed to table,” said Beth Horst, volunteer coordinator of the garden program. “Hopefully, when they buy something in the grocery store now, they’ll think about where it comes from.”
Horst would like to see the Spring Salad Extravaganza become an annual event.
Conestoga’s garden program, established three years ago with support from Penn Manor Education Foundation, is run by parent volunteers and PTO members and is considered a model school/community garden, according to Lighten Up Lancaster.
In addition to the salad ingredients mentioned above, the garden is growing potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, sunflowers, zinnias and a Three Sisters bed that includes corn, beans and squash, for harvest in the fall.