Last Friday, Prints & Plants visited Mr. Coleman's third grade class at El Camino Real. We discussed local produce, how food traveled to New Mexico from Mexico and Guatemala over thousands of years thanks to the power of seeds, made our own recipe books, and tasted a variety of veggies from Northern New Mexico farms.
We began with a discussion about printmaking and food by reading the book Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Mary Azarian who created woodblock prints for all of the images. This story traces food back to the people who grow it, tend it, transport it, sell it, and cook it.
After gaining inspiration from the story, we began making our own recipe books! We folded paper to create handmade accordion books, attached colorful covers, and pasted recipes and facts about local produce onto the pages.
The students then used bits and pieces of local produce to print their own designs into these books. Each table had a theme that arose organically due to the freedom of creative process. One table was very experimental with color mixtures, another table created faces with the veggies, and the other table was focused on the repetition of shapes.
The students also decorated their book covers and some even gave a title. One student used a carrot as a writing utensil to name his book - how clever!
While the books dried, we regathered as a group and centered our conversation on the nutrition these veggies offer our bodies. The students tasted carrots, beets, daikon radishes, and watermelon radishes. The watermelon radishes were a spicy shock to the system! Many members of the class thought this powerful veggie packed too much of a punch to enjoy. The beets were a hit, however, and many students asked for seconds.
As we tasted and chatted about nutrition, Mr. Coleman led the students in a writing exercise in which the class wrote down their impressions of the veggie flavors and the nutrition this local food gave their bodies.
When we finished munching and writing, the books were dry. The students displayed their creations and walked around the room to observe the works and write down their thoughts.
The students each created a unique book that demonstrated innovative ways to use vegetables. It was a moving experience to see the students exercise their creativity and learn about the value of local food at the same time.