Discovering Edible Weeds

My team works at Burns Latino Studies Academy in Hartford. On Wednesdays, we teach 5 classes ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade. Our seventh grade class is learning about genetics and planted pea plants, constructed trellises, and recorded data to keep track of their progress.

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We had some extra time this week so we used it to weed the garden. I was weeding with a group of girls and I pointed out wild carrots and they thought it was really cool that you could eat something in nature. We talked about the genetics of wild carrots versus the conventional ones you can buy in the grocery store and how the traits that provide the big root we’re used to were selected for over time. Wild carrots are used more for their greens than their roots. Since they were so interested in the wild carrots, I then told them about dandelion greens. I picked one and ate it while I was explaining how they are edible and they freaked out. So I handed them one and told them to try it. They ripped it in half, each took a piece, counted down, put it in their mouth and…they liked it! They kept weeding and at the end of the class they ran over to me with some plants in their hands and excitedly asked me if it was wild carrots.

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They had dug up the whole root, but a lot of the leaves were missing, so I couldn’t really tell, so I did what any curious scientist does, and smelled it. It was definitely carrots and I told the girls to give it a good sniff. They were so excited that they could pick out wild carrots now, and they asked if they could take their carrot home, which of course I allowed.

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