By Lisa Golden Schroeder
What happens when you take a group of teenage kids + a table loaded with fresh ingredients like tiny spring greens, shredded zucchini, sweet cherry tomatoes, tender herbs, chopped bell peppers and chiles, bowls of whole grains? And charge them with coming up with super tasty combinations? Shyness quickly turns into intense discussions between teammates, hesitant dabbling turns into wholesale mad chemistry. And the results? A refreshing collection of arrestingly original salads (“epic” to quote two enthusiastic creators). Chock full of the garden goodies those budding cooks will grow, then share this summer with an audience well beyond their neighborhoods.
Roots for the Home Team™ is a groundbreaking first-of-its-kind program that’s partnering with youth garden programs in ethnically diverse parts of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The brains behind the brilliant concept is Susan Moores, a highly-regarded registered dietician who specializes in upbeat communications about food and nutrition for families. It’s taken her two years to build enough sponsor support to create a viable budget—and to encourage the management of the Minnesota Twins to embrace the addition of a “garden goodies” salad cart to the list of innovative food offerings at Target Field. And the excitement around the partnership is building as the first Sunday home game approaches. Youth interns from three of the larger garden projects in the Twin Cities, those fabulous kids who created the salads, will be the smiling faces serving up bowls of their healthy, and more importantly delicious, salads to baseball fans.
Just BARE® is one of an elite group of sponsors for the program, a natural fit for a brand that’s all about healthy whole foods. So while Roots for the Home Team™ revolves around fresh produce, a collaboration with a producer of all-natural, fresh chicken is good team work. I’m a huge fan too, as I begin planting with the Mahtomedi garden kids. There just can’t be enough support for community agriculture that only enhances the subject of healthy lifestyles. It all adds up to a grand slam!
(Just a little side note: Dennis Becker, the wonderful food photographer I work with to shoot our recipes, volunteered his time to create the cool salad photos for the Garden Goodies™ cart. We had a blast doing it—especially when Sue Moores brought us her parents’ old garden trowel, which became the perfect salad spoon!)