Jona Kerr has been teaching her son, Aidan, about food since birth. Because he was so small when he was born, his parents were advised to feed him whatever he wanted. Aidan’s preference was dairy — specifically cheese, yogurt, and a lot of mac n’ cheese.
But, Aidan had allergies. Different symptoms would appear depending on the season, like coughing, sneezing and rashes. “He was just miserable,” Jona says. “And we just though ‘Oh, seasonal allergies, we live in southern Indiana, so that’s what it is.’”
Jona talked with a friend who was a nutrition scientist and he suggested Aiden stop eating dairy, “And he was absolutely right.”
No more dairy meant no more allergic reactions. Aidan’s problems cleared up following the elimination of dairy. “I felt great!” Aidan said.
Now Aidan is learning to grow food.
He has two tomato plants in pots on his family’s back patio — a yellow pear tomato and a black cherry tomato. He received these plants back in April at an Earth Day event at his school. Jona decided to add more tomatoes to the family garden after Aidan brought the two plants home. They now have ten different types.
Jona wants Aidan to become a conscious eater. “As a Mom trying to encourage him to try new things, I really do think that when kids learn how to grow stuff, when kids learn how to cook things, they become better eaters,” she says.
Laura Beth Wayne, Aidan’s second grade teacher at Harmony School, also wanted to make her students more conscious eaters. She taught a food and farming unit this past semester, a subject very close to he roots.
“It plays into something that is a big part of my life outside of school,” says Laura Beth, who is also a co-owner of WE Farm in Owen County. The kids also had the opportunity to visit Wayne’s farm. “All of us are eaters and I just wanted the kids to think about their food in a different way.”
The kids learned a lot, from how seeds grow, to how we get beef and natural fertilizer from cows. “The ultimate goal is there’s a difference between them planting the food, them growing the food, and preparing the food and eating the food than opening the can and eating the food,” she says.
She gave her second graders basil and zinnia seeds at their graduation ceremony at the end of May. Her hope was the kids would grow them over the summer.
“I think it would all go along with what resonated with the students and I think if it’s something that they enjoyed and wanted to know more about then they will seek it out and if it’s not, then that’s just that. And that’s part of being a kid.”
Another part of being a kid is that you forget things, just like Aidan and his basil and zinnia seeds.
“Actually, I brought them home and I don’t know where they went, actually,” he says.