Parkway Students Give Beets a Taste Test Through the Lettuce Learn Project

Published Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 10:28 am

Student volunteers from ASU invite students to give their response to the taste of beets.

Students at Parkway School sampled locally grown beets Wednesday in the first of several “taste tests” provided through the Lettuce Learn project with support from High Country Local First and the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.

The experience was provided as part of the TASTE (Teaching All Students To Experience) Local Food project that offers samples of local foods during school lunch.

The beets came from Springhouse Farm, a certified organic farm operating in Watauga County. They had been roasted with onions and garlic and were served on a small scoop-type tortilla chip. Reactions among students ranged from enthusiastic to less so, but most were willing to eat them again and seemed interested in trying other locally grown foods in future taste tests.

Those who sampled the beets were invited to register their opinion by placing a bean in one of several cups labeled with different responses: I love beets, beets taste okay, or I tried beets but will wait to taste them again. To encourage persistence in trying new foods and perhaps in the classroom as well, “never again” was not an option.

Shannon Carroll, Lettuce Learn garden coordinator for Parkway School, remarked that a farm to school taste test “is a great way to introduce children to fresh, local food and to local food producers. It’s also a whole school activity that can build community spirit while connecting to the curriculum in a variety of subjects.”

While the taste testing is fun and informative on its own, Carroll aims to provide more than an interesting break in the cafeteria routine. She hopes the events will initiate lasting benefits by increasing appreciation for healthy eating and local food, especially fruits and vegetables, as well as improving students’ understanding of agriculture and its role in the community.   “Children can be great change agents,” she observed. “If a child goes home excited about eating kale, you can bet the possibility of the family eating kale will increase.”

In addition to Parkway, Lettuce Learn also offers special programs at Bethel and Valle Crucis and there are gardens at Hardin Park and Mabel. Additional information about Lettuce Learn is available at

Parkway School has an enrollment of 512 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The school’s students significantly outperform state averages on the End-of-Grade tests in reading, mathematics, and science.

The Watauga County Schools is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Escuelas del Condado de Watauga es un proveedor de servicios con igualdad de oportunidades

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