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White House Cookbook Features Strafford County Master Gardener Recipes

August 4, 2010

The “White House Garden Cookbook” by Clara Silverstein includes two recipes from Kids Can Grow, a Strafford County, UNH Cooperative Extension master gardener program.

The recently-published cookbook chronicles the first year of the White House Garden started by first lady Michele Obama in an effort to get kids excited about eating more fresh vegetables and fruit.

Since 2005, Kids Can Grow has introduced more than 100 Strafford County children and their families to the joys of growing their own food. Every summer, children ages 8-12 gather at the demonstration garden site at the Strafford County complex to talk about such things as soil composition, composting, planting, bugs, food safety and nutrition. Eight raised beds are planted and cared for and the produce shared with the residents of Riverside Nursing Home.

In the spring of 2009, Strafford County master gardener and coordinator of Kids Can Grow, Noreen Gaetjens, noticed a call for recipes for the “White House Garden Cookbook.” 

Gaetjens contacted the author and sent a copy of “Kids Can Grow.” Master gardeners created the cookbook as a way to encourage kids to continue gardening, eat more healthfully, and learn new ways to enjoy their produce. Strafford County master gardeners contributed recipes and cooking ideas, many personal family favorites.
The White House Garden Cookbook highlights the Kids Can Grow recipes for sugar snap peas with garlic and ginger, and a radish and green bean salad.

In her acknowledgements, Silversten notes, “The White House Kitchen Garden inspired this book, but for ideas about bringing children and families into gardens, I turned to community and school gardening programs throughout the country. I am indebted to all of the groups that shared their enthusiasm about gardening with children keeping my inbox filled with recipes and photos.”

Participants in the Kids Can Grow project also receive the materials needed to construct a raised bed garden at home with their choice of vegetables, herbs and flowers. Each child is assigned a master gardener as a mentor to visit their garden and offer encouragement and advice throughout the summer.

At harvest time, a feast is enjoyed by all and everyone receives a Kids Can Grow cookbook featuring the produce they have grown. Strafford County agricultural resources educator Geoffrey Njue said, “It is very exciting to have two of our recipes included in the wonderful White House Garden Cookbook, which hopefully will inspire many families to try growing their own delicious vegetables.”

For more information about Strafford County, UNH Cooperative Extension Kids Can Grow gardening program, contact Njue at (603 749-4445 or geoffrey.njue@unh.edu

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