How Do You Grow Vegetable Soup?

Most people my age grew up on the prairies knowing someone who had a farm. I remember sitting in school talking to friends about summer vacations and always someone said “I’m going to the Farm for vacation!” Everyone had a farm, even I did. My great-aunt worked on a dairy farm and my family went to visit her over Christmas break one year. I had never been on a dairy farm before this. Sure I had been to Saskatchewan and hung out on my uncle’s grain farm. Animals add a different dimension.

My sister was 4 and I was 12. I took her into the dairy barn to have a peek at the cows. The first thing that hits you is the smell. Shocking for a couple of city girls. The farmer was inside and invited us to watch him milk the cows. COOL! We walked up close enough to see what was going on. We watched as the farmer hook the milking machine (I know I am great with technical lingo) up to the cow and the noise started. My sister was fascinated with the process until the cow decided to … well… lets say relieve herself while she was being milked. My sister was horrified! After watching the entire process and seeing the milk go into the vats and watched the clean up process, it was time to head in for breakfast.

Oh farm breakfast, how I miss you! A hardy breakfast of pancake,eggs and farm fresh milk. The first question my sister asked was “is that cow milk or fridge milk?” My aunt laughed and knew what my sister was eluding to. “Fridge milk of course! See?” My aunt open the fridge door wide and showed the bottle of milk. My sister was satisfied and vowed NEVER to drink cow milk again. Luckily for her, we were city kids. Fridge milk was all that was ever available to us.

I have a hunch that most of you never think about where your food comes from. If you sat and thought about it you could tell me about all the steps it takes to get from the farm to the table. Think about this for a minute, I’ll wait.


Now think about this: Most preschool children at ABC Head Start have never left the city to see what is outside of it. City Transit tend not to travel to local farms. Here is another surprising story: Lots of children from ABC Head Start do not go to the grocery store with their parents. Often parents do not have their own vehicle. Buying groceries, traveling on transit, juggling a handful of small children becomes an all day excursion. Children get to stay at home or with neighbors while a parent goes to buy food. Not only do children never get to see a cow in the flesh, but buying food at the store can be a foreign experience as well!

This week one of the ABC Head Start Classrooms, a field trip was planned to walk to the local Safeway. The excitement amongst the children was electric. The teacher read Growing vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert. The class learned that you could MAKE your own soup and it didn’t have to come from a can. Then a grocery list was made of the vegetables they would like to buy. There was concern amongst the children as to who was going to bring the money. The teacher assured them they would never have to worry about money. The adults would bring enough money to buy what they needed. With the plan in hand the trip began.

The children set out for the store and conversation rolled around whose house they were walking by, the helicopter they saw in the air and where was this field trip anyways? The answer was “We are on the field trip”.

Oh…you could feel the excitement deflate just a little bit.

Once the children reached the store, the exploration on fruit and vegetables began. The shopping list changed as colourful vegetables were discovered and some were not to be found. Then the big worry. The food needed to be bought. Are you sure we have enough money? The teacher held up the card and said “See? I have enough, you do not need to worry about the money.” Yet the worry on their face was still there, until the food reached the bag and the receipt was in hand, then they breathed easier.

The next day at school the book was read again. It is important to remember how to make vegetable soup! Learning new vocabulary means listening to the story many times. Then the children peeled and cut the vegetables and placed them in a pot so they could be cooked into soup! Lots of vegetable samples ended up in mouths so they could taste new food. “Vegetables just taste better when we cook them, right teacher?” “That is correct because you are all very good cooks!”

On the third day the soup was eaten for snack. Was it delicious? You bet it was! Nothing tastes as good as homemade soup from your own hands. Often snack at ABC Head Start is a substantial meal. It was 3-4 different food groups and lots of choices and opportunity to try new food.

Fundraising events like the Scarecrow festival help support programs at ABC Head Start and make a difference in the life of a child.

By supporting fundraising events like Scarecrow Festival and Magic and Masquerade Gala, you are assisting the Staff at ABC Head Start to ensure the children can receive all the helping hands possible to have success in learning and in life. Consider Volunteering for the festival by contacting Brenda at or make an effort to attend the 20th anniversary of Scarecrow Festival October 12-14, 2012 at Northland’s Edmonton Expo Centre. It’s a family friendly event for children of all ages!

Now if you want to read Growing Vegetable Soup visit here!

If you need more activities to go with the book, because learning through literacy is great fun, visit here!

If you want to find out more about Scarecrow Festival visit here!

For more information about ABC Head Start please visit here.