By Lisa Golden Schroeder
It can be amazing what any of us can do, if we set our minds to it. And this was the number one take-away for Susan Moores, the founder and humming engine behind the Roots for the Home Team project, at the end of their first baseball season. Her dream collaboration with local kids’ garden programs and a professional ballpark took a couple of years to fulfill, but it only took a few weeks before she knew she’d hit a home run with the young people she’s serving. “I truly underestimated what the kids were capable of—I knew they were going to be enthusiastic partners, but the level of engagement was fantastic,” Moores shared. She says she was blown away by their creativity and unique ideas, and how happy they were to discover new experiences. “The kids actually surprised themselves at what they could achieve,” she said. “And they found they could trust their instincts.” Not always typical of teenagers.
The entrepreneurial aspect of the Roots program is what impresses me the most. We can all garden with kids and introduce them to the wonders of where our food comes from, but that’s just the first step in the complex system of distributing food beyond growing and harvesting. Of course learning how to transform the food into delicious meals to share with family and friends is at the heart of every good garden program, but rippling out from there to share with a larger community has value in so many ways. Moores’ second take-away was the sheer delight of the fans at Target Field. Fans who stopped at the Garden Goodies cart, bought salads, then returned to thank the young gardeners for such tasty, fresh food. “We proved that serving healthy fare at a ballpark doesn’t have to be boring. And the positive feedback from customers, many who returned every game, was great reinforcement,” she said. Serving samples of salads to passers-by boosted visibility for the cart, along with tremendous support from the Minnesota Twins’ staff and other behind-the-scenes cheerleaders who volunteered in numerous ways to make the first season a success.
So what’s next for a new season, with twice as many games to serve? Moores says that the kids asked for more responsibility and have already stretched their creativity developing all new salad recipes that reflect what they’ll grow this summer. The number of kids involved will rise from about 22 to 50 youth manning the cart at various points during weekend home games. And another garden location will join the party, upping the number of programs involved to four, with approximately 100 kids growing and harvesting. “Last year far exceeded my expectations of what we could do the first year,” Moores says. “My goal is to stay fresh, innovative, and interesting for everyone—from the kids to the community. I want to challenge these teenagers to have an even stronger vested interest in making Roots economically stable and a smarter operation, so it can be around for awhile.” Just BARE continues to be enthusiastic supporter, and in the spirit of fan requests, chicken will be available to add to some of the new salads this year!
|PaLyEsai Greek Salad Lettuce Wraps||
- ½ cup uncooked freekeh or bulgur wheat
- 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken*
- 1 cup chopped orange or yellow bell pepper (1 medium)
- 1 cup chopped plum tomato (2 small)
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- ¼ cup finely chopped banana or Anaheim chile
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ⅓ cup lemon herb vinaigrette (find your favorite)
- 12 large butter lettuce leaves
- ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
- Cook freekeh according to package directions. Rinse in cool water; drain well.
- Meanwhile, mix chicken, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, chile, beans, and parsley in large bowl. Stir in cooked freekeh and dressing.
- Serve salad wrapped in lettuce leaves, sprinkled with cheese.