Market to Market

Sharing My Farmer's Market Experience with my class
I believe its very important to help children learn and understand where food comes from. With all the fast food in the world, I have come to find that children really have no real idea where food begins and some have no concept of how its grown. A simple activity or invitation for exploration is providing pictures of your local farmers markets for the children to explore. After buying my produce, eggs and even herb plants at the local farmers market, I decided to take pictures of it all and share it with the children in my class. It brought up wonderful discussions about food and chickens and different jobs that people do. 

Using Books
I like to use Nikki McClure’s wonderful book To Market To Market to help introduce the concept of a farmers market. Some other good market books to include into the curriculum: 
Farmer’s Market: Families Working Together by Marcie R. Rendon and Cheryl Walsh Bellville
Farmers Market by Paul Brett Johnson
Apple Farmer Annie (can be found in spanish and english) by Monica Wellington

How About Some Bread Baking?
If you have a local baker or your farmers market sells bread, you can even bring Ann Morris’ book Bread, Bread, Bread to the curriculum as well. In my class, we have bread tasting days where I bring in many different types of bread and then we graph who liked what, bringing in some math concepts into the mix as well. If you are comfortable cooking, children as young as two can help make bread in the classroom. 

An easy recipe from Amanda and Stephen Soule’s book The Rhythm of Family is as follows:
2 Cups warm water
4 ½ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (2 packages)
4 Tablespoons Honey 
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
5 Cups flour
1 Cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
Olive or Canola Oil for the bowl and bread pan

Pour the warm water into a small bowl. Mix the yeast, honey, and brown sugar. Whisk until everything is combined and the mixture begins to get frothy. Set it aside to proof for 10 minutes or until foamy.
In a separate large bowl, mix the flour, salt, oats and butter. Mix until the butter is worked though. 
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined. If its too sticky, add just a bit more flour. 
Pour the dough out onto the kneading surface. Knead for 10 minutes or so (this is the fun part for the kids), adding up to 1 cup of flour as needed to prevent sticking. Stop kneading when the dough begins to be elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch down the dough gently and let it rise for another half an hour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide it into 2 balls for 2 loaves. Gently knead each ball for 2 to 3 minutes. Place the dough balls into lightly oiled bread pans. Press the top of the dough with the back of your hands to flatten and evenly shape the dough in the pan. Sprinkle the top of the dough with bits of oats. Cover again, and let the dough sit in a warm place for a half an hour to rise one more time. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 40 minutes or until the top begins to appear golden. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to fully cool on a wire rack. Serve to the children. How exciting for them to finally get to taste the bread they helped to make that day! 

Knowing Where Our Food Comes From is Important
Talking about where food comes from and how and who grows it can be an extended, multi-facted, very important exploration for both the children and the teachers. Some centers may even be able to visit local farms or weekday farmers markets which would just extend the learning of the origin of food even more as well as help facilitate healthy eating which we should all be doing for these future generations.