SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Pocantico Hills School students, teachers and volunteer parents harvested a crop of vegetables grown at home in the nearby Rockefeller Pocantico Hills gardens and turned the bounty into soups, pestos and breads for the annual Soup Day on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Ilana Brennan, the school’s family consumer science and health teacher, headed the project, which has become a favorite of the students and families in the district.
Brennan’s crew of volunteers made giant pots of vegetable soups and basil pesto with school-baked herb focacccia.
“The really important thing is to get the students involved,” Brennan said. “Once they are involved, we can make connections to every part of the curriculum. I tie this program into all the different disciplines in the school. It’s action-oriented. Instead of just sitting in a chair and watching, the goal is create an interest and to see how the students' efforts result in a product.”
The interest began with planting in the spring, nurturing the crops – potatoes, squash, celery, carrots, tomatoes, herbs and leafy vegetables – then harvesting. The students picked, cleaned and chopped the produce from the garden.
Fourth-graders Rue Ledesma and Ryan Simms picked and chopped parsley for the soups.
“I help my mother cook sometimes at home,” Rue said. “I love the garden and seeing what goes into making foods. We got tomato plants last year, and mine is still growing.”
Ryan said she enjoys being outdoors experiencing hands-on lessons in life.
“I love that we can do this ourselves and grow and then cook the vegetables,” Simms said. “We are looking forward to eating the soup that came from the garden.”
Brennan commented on the assistance from school families and others.
“Lauren Amsterdam and Gabrielle Langholtz have helped me tremendously by designing graphics, creating a sophisticated volunteer sign-up system and as a sounding board for planning,” Brennan said. ‘”Parents participated in all phases of the Harvest Soup Festival. We needed every available hand.”
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