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Children reap a harvest at Clarkesville Farmers Market
Kids go on scavenger hunt for fresh food
Seven-year-old Allie tastes a cucumber during the Healthy Kids Club day at the Clarkesville Farmers Market at the Old Mill in Clarkesville. Her 6-year-old brother, Devin, rates the cucumber he tasted on a large sheet of paper as his mother Karen Redding, right, watches. The family from Mount Airy was participating in the scavenger hunt that Clarkesville Farmers Market manager Maggie Van Cantfort, left, helped organize. - photo by J.K. Devine

FARM FRESH: This is the fifth in a series of stories about local growers who provide Hall County with fresh produce and their own recipes.

1 bunch of kale
Olive oil (spray works best)
Salt and pepper

Wash kale and let dry completely. Tear leaves off stems in 2-inch pieces. Place pieces in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spray the layer with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on leaves.

Bake leaves at 275 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until crispy.

A few local farmers are working to harvest children’s natural curiosity and help them learn more about fresh, local produce.

Clarkesville Farmers Market vendors Joni Kennedy, owner of Melon Head Farm, and Sonya Farrell, owner of Random Bantam Farms, founded the market’s Healthy Kids Club at the start of the year. The club’s goal is to encourage children to make healthy food choices and try new fruits and vegetables.

Children are given a rewards card when the visit the market at 583 Grant St., on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and noon. Farmers punch the children’s cards once for every healthy food choice they make. The children are encouraged to ask the farmers anything they want about the food they sell in the market.

“We want kids to know that being healthy can be fun,” Farrell said. “They can grow their own food and it tastes yummy. That’s the thing. It’s just about educating them.”

Though the sky threatened rain, more than a dozen children participated in the club’s first Healthy Kids Club celebration Saturday morning. The children exchanged their punched cards for raffle tickets for farmers market prizes and enjoyed taste testing, face painting, seed planting, games and a show chicken display.

Several families made their first trip to the market for the celebration, something Farrell called a “major win.”

“We’re jus trying to encourage the kids to think about making healthy choices with their food,” Kennedy said. “I think if you can influence them when they’re young to try new things and pick them up and smell them, to ask why a cucumber is round and why the melons are green on the inside, why the tomatoes are all different colors instead of a round red ball. I think it’s really good to let them see that when they’re young.”

Children who are otherwise adverse to eating their vegetables might change their minds if they’re the ones to pick a food.

Children were given slices of cucumbers and basil leaves to taste test during the celebration.

Kennedy said buying locally grown foods might help sway picky eaters to the green side because it has more flavor since it is picked when it’s ripe and eaten soon after.

“I think if you can influence them when they’re young to try new things that are out of the ordinary, then they’ll grow up to be healthier eaters and healthier children,” Kennedy said.

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