A Day at Club Sprouts


Club Sprouts is all about kids! As a volunteer for the Green City Market Club Sprouts program over the past 3 years, the highlight of my day is welcoming the children that come to the market and offer a tasting of what’s farm fresh that day. It’s important kids have the opportunity to compare different varieties of seasonal fruits or vegetables, so they are empowered to learn the names of edible plants, and can taste and experience the sensory differences between say “a French breakfast radish and a watermelon radish.”

Often the parents haven’t tasted and compared produce and are equally interested, so we invite the parents to sample too. A favorite is a cucamelon; everyone wants to try it! Usually the children are eager to taste, but if not, we encourage Mom or Dad to taste it first. The kids always have an opinion about what they’re eating and sometimes their comments are a surprise to the parent. One mom started telling me how her daughter hates tomatoes, as the little girl started popping sun gold tomatoes in her mouth like candy.

Besides tasting, we talk about color, size, shape, nutrition and cooking tips. We also identify what part of the plant the produce comes from and how it grows. I often try to give a “fun fact” about what is being sampled that kids and parents alike might remember. For example, “What looks like a parsnip, but is orange?” If you answered, “carrot”, you’re right. Parsnips and carrots are in the same family. Parsley and celery are in the carrot family too!” It’s also important the children develop a relationship with nature and the landscape at a young age. They need to see how plants grow and the farmers can help tell the story, along with our Edible Gardens. Then the children begin to understand that a pea is more than a pea: it grows in a shell, and then the children have the confidence to shell it on their own. From there, they start tasting healthier foods and cooking. We also have a special activity along with the tasting, like planting seeds in pots to take home, block printing with corn cobs, making lettuce wraps, etc.

Each activity extends the produce and farmers market into a creative, hands-on learning experience that the children can take home. Every Sprouts member that samples the tasting of the day receives a hole punch on their Club Sprouts membership card. Once the card is filled with 8 tastes, the child takes home a certificate of accomplishment and a special prize. Each and every one of our Club Sprout members are very special to us at Green City because they are our future, the keepers of our earth. We need to help them to understand the importance of supporting small family farms and promoting a healthier society through education. As well as promoting an appreciation for local, fresh, sustainably raised produce and products. Stop by and visit us at Club Sprouts!

- Diane Sokolofski, GCM Volunteer & Board Member

Parent Tip:  Frustrated your child does not eat fresh produce.  Be patient.It’s been reported that kids will need to try new foods anywhere from 7 to 15 times before acquiring a taste for it. That’s a lot.

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Know your food, know your farmer
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Lincoln Park
N. Clark St & N. Lincoln Ave
Saturdays, 7am–1pm
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115 S. Sangamon St
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2430 N. Cannon Dr.
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Chicago, IL 60625

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