by Spring Courtright
Pumpkin Harvest Day with Island Coop Preschool was SO MUCH FUN! It was my first day as “Farm Teacher Spring,” and I have to say, I’m hooked on this edible education idea.
I was a bit starstruck by my teacher partner, Leslee Pate (one of the owners of Mossback Cafe in Kingston) and the amazing preschool teacher, Ellen Carleson, but I managed to turn my attention to the kids…
The kids were fun bundles of energy as we gathered on a blanket in the grass at Morales Farm for our opening circle. Teacher Ellen led fun songs, read us a pumpkin story about pumpkin parts, then gave us paper cutouts of pumpkin plant parts and guided us all through the life of a pumpkin. I was singing and playing right along with the kids.
We reviewed the Four Farm Rules before heading on a wild and wonderful tour of the farm. These are great rules for life!
- Stay on the path and don’t step on the plants
- Ask if you don’t know
- Have fun
- Farm freeze (teachers say this if there’s a safety issue – we all freeze where we are to look at the situation)
On our tour we moved from looking at baby chickens to eating borage to gobbling along with fully-grown turkeys to picking and eating cherry tomatoes that were as sweet as candy. As we neared the pumpkins the kids wriggled with anticipation.
Soon we each had a Jack-Be-Little pumpkin in our hands and each child had their names written on the bottom. We also had a pile of Sugar and Cinderella pumpkins for Teacher Ellen to take to Helpline House as a donation.
Then it was time for a walk through the magic bean tunnel and a snack in the sunflower circle!
After snack time, we followed Farm Teacher Leslee into the teaching greenhouse, where we looked at and touched and smelled all kinds of pumpkins and squash, beans and dried flowers, seeds and farm tools.
Then came the biggest treat of this wonderful day…chef Leslee’s freshly cooked Cinnamon Pumpkin Snacks. All I can say about these is YUM! The recipe is at the bottom of this post.
After smelling and touching the pieces of pumpkin on our plates, we tasted them. Some loved them so much they came back for thirds while some decided this was their favorite treat. One asked if he could just have some cinnamon! But many loved these tasty little morsels.
Before ending the day, the kids nearly made me cry when they linked hands with Teacher Ellen and parent volunteers in a circle around Teacher Leslee and I before dancing in a circle around us while singing a thank you song.
We had more time to eat beans and nasturtium flowers, and a few found a little puddle to play in before parents arrived to happy kids carrying their pumpkins.
I’m already looking forward to Potato Day with the Island Coop Preschool on October 18!
Here is the recipe for Leslee’s Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Snacks:
*Note: seasoned Sugar or Cinderella pumpkins are sweetest. Seasoned = either cut and left in a dry place for 1-2 weeks or after 1-2 freezes.
- 2-2.5 cups cubed, peeled pumpkin (about 1×1 inch cubes)
- ½ cup water (variable)
- 1 T butter
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 t salt
- ¼ t cinnamon
- sugar to taste
Steps to greatness:
- Mix pumpkin cubes with salt, butter, olive oil, water
- Flash roast:
- high heat
- put lid on
- leave 5-10 minutes
- only turn cubes occasionally to allow skin to form on outsides
- Add cinnamon and sugar to taste
- Toss to spread flavors around