Posted November 15, 2011
Although the treasures are not always golden in color, every sixth grader this year has experienced what is our version of digging for gold. By the end of the 8-week autumn rotation, nearly every sixth grader has dug up Yukon gold, red skinned, purple skinned, Peruvian purple, and fingerling potatoes. “Potato!!!” echoes in the garden as if gold had been the treasure revealed.
Over the course of the Edible Schoolyard’s sixteen years of operation, potatoes have been rotated from bed to bed, spreading their tubers deep into the soil. As a member of the nightshade family, potatoes should never to be planted in a bed that has just grown -- or will next grow -- tomatoes, eggplant, peppers or potatoes. Therefore, over the years potatoes have been planted roughly all over the garden. As a result, although only a handful of classes get to actually harvest this fall’s potato patch, students involved in other garden tasks, such as cultivating, often uncover potatoes of many varieties.
For their final class in the autumn rotation, sixth grade students sliced potatoes, tossed them with a little olive oil, and roasted them in our beloved wood-burning oven. While waiting for the potatoes to cook, students learned interesting facts about potatoes. They learned what part of a plant a potato is (a tuber) and where potatoes originated from (the Andes of South America). Many students are surprised to learn that there are over 4,000 varieties of potato and it is the world’s fourth-largest crop! As the potatoes begin to emit a crackly, sizzling sound, students harvest small sprigs of rosemary to season as they please.
When the potatoes are ready, we gather around the picnic table to serve the hot, golden, crispy coins to each student. Together we eat a snack that is entirely student-grown, -harvested, and -prepared. This is truly an edible education!
Students prepare fresh potatoes for roasting
Interesting facts about the worlds fourth-largest crop
Potatoes ready to be cooked in the wood-burning oven