Heil said the Sweet Potato Pride Project has helped students learn about the plant’s life cycle, parts and care. “We are trying to grow our own slips in the classroom.” At BIS, “we used them in math to discuss weight, length and circumference. It also tied in nicely with health and reading as we read articles about their nutritional value. Did you know that to take in the amount of vitamin A that is in one sweet potato, you would have to eat 23 cups of broccoli?” asks Weisenbach.
What has third-grader Eli Wilson learned about the vegetable that was surprising? “They can grow very big. I use to think that potatoes could only fit in your hand,” but the most gigantic one at BIS “had a circumference of 11 inches.” The third-grader said he would “probably” make the sweet potato medley at home, rating it “pretty good.” What amazed classmate Megan Meyer is “that sweet potatoes grow under the ground, and you have to dig them out to harvest them.” She imagines whipping up a sweet potato pie “because I’ve never had it before and I think it might taste good.”
Second-graders Jackie Aylor and Kaylin Hinners found out “you can start growing sweet potatoes from other sweet potatoes.” When asked if she would cook a recipe at home, Aylor answered, “Yes, but not every day. Maybe once a month.”
The initiative has encouraged kids to eat more local produce. Each family was given a $2 Batesville Farmers’ Market coupon and 107 redeemed them Sept. 14. Using the coupon plus more cash, Wilson and his family “bought a stone necklace, some flowers, a watermelon and some carrots.” The third-grader called the experience “fun, and it is good to know that you have someplace you can go on Saturday mornings and get stuff cheap.” Meyer purchased cantaloupe and a few sweet potatoes. “I liked seeing all of the fruits and vegetables and how they are different shapes and sizes.”