Now that the garden has produced fresh fruits and vegetables, it is time to harvest! This is a fun, educational and rewarding experience for everyone. Including children in the harvesting activities will make them proud of what they have grown and will encourage them to try new foods they normally would not try.
Most garden produce can be harvested with a shovel and a pair of scissors. The shovel will help loosen soil and dig up root crops like carrots and potatoes. Scissors are helpful when harvesting leafy greens and herbs. Remember, much of the produce can be picked by hand. If these tools do not get the job done, consider using more heavy duty tools. Adults should only use these types of tools when children are not nearby. Remember to always use caution!
The harvesting method depends on the crop being grown. Most produce can be categorized into three groups: plants that can be cut or pinched, plants that require digging up and plants that can be picked by hand. Below is a table that shows harvesting methods for common crops in each category.
Use the South Carolina Produce Availability Chart as a guide to know when your produce should be ready.
To incorporate the produce in the classroom curriculum, plan nutrition and cooking lessons, hold taste tests or have a market day to sell the produce. In the planning stage, the garden committee should have decided how to use the produce. Use that guide for choosing activities and ensure all food safety procedures are followed. If there is excess from your harvest that you will not be able to use, donate it to local organizations, shelters or food pantries. Donating food can strengthen relationships within the community. Check with the local department of health to follow any food safety guidelines.