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Bringing the Farmers’ Market to Top of the World Elementary School

A simple garbanzo bean bush sparks curiosity and wonder.

Story submitted by the Laguna Beach Unified School District:

Laguna Beach Unified School District Nutrition Services Director Debra Appel frequents the Great Park Farmer’s Market in Irvine, and always stops by the Orange County Produce stand where the District purchases its seasonal organic fruits and vegetables.

At the stand, she saw a garbanzo bean bush. Ms. Appel said, “I had never seen one before and it was so interesting that I thought it would be a wonderful teachable moment to bring the garbanzo bean bush to show the students, and then serve hummus and pita bread for the elementary school lunch!”

Ms. Appel recently showed the garbanzo bush to Top of the World Elementary School students.

“They were so interested and excited. I explained how hummus was made using the garbanzo beans and we sampled the beans in their raw state. The students really liked them and wanted to bring samples home for their parents to eat!”

TOW Kindergarten teacher Leslie Monroe took a piece of the bush to her classroom so students could study the look, texture and taste of garbanzo beans. She remarked, “My students were amazed to see a real garbanzo bean bush! Before we looked at it, we discussed garbanzos--did we like them? What kinds of foods had garbanzo beans in them? What did they look like?

"Then we examined the fresh garbanzo bean bush. The students were so surprised when we opened up the bean pod to see two little green garbanzo beans in each pod. It was a wonderful farm-to-market lesson.”

TOW parent Caren Wittkop shared her children’s experience.

“My son, William Paul, couldn't stop talking about how great garbanzos were on the way home that day! I think he ate all of my daughter Claire’s, as well as his own. He was beside himself when I told him that you could even buy cans of garbanzos and that we might even have one at home. But, he was most excited about the prospect of visiting the Farmer's Market that weekend in order to look for his own garbanzo bush to add to his ever-growing collection of plants and herbs.”

LBUSD continues to serve fresh local organic fruits and vegetables grown in Orange County. Seasonal vegetables and fruits are often harvested and available the same day to District students for snack and lunch.

Ms. Appel appreciates this unique local benefit.

“I love Orange County Produce and the Great Park Farmer’s Market because they have a wide variety of interesting produce and they experiment with different items. Did you know that in the 1950s, Costa Mesa was the lima bean growing capital of the world, and Orange County is one of the best places on the planet to grow most any vegetable or fruit? These are some of the facts I picked up while shopping at the Farmer’s Market, where the farmers have generations of nutritional information to share.”

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