Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 25
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
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Learning About the “Locavore” Connection: Kindergarteners’ Plants Flavor Frozen Treat

Ellen Gilbert

The timing was brilliant: the sun came out and the ominous rumblings ceased just as Johnson Park School (JP) kindergartners stepped outside the school building for what was billed as “a garden party” last week.

Ice cream was on the menu, but this wasn’t just any ice cream: it was a batch of “peach rose geranium!” (their exclamation point), prepared by the bent spoon (lowercase letters also theirs) from geraniums grown in the JP school garden.

The JP kindergartners had planted the geraniums, and tended them all spring. To illustrate the “locavore” connection between locally grown ingredients and locally produced food, the grown plants were sent to the bent spoon, Princeton’s “artisan ice cream and good ingredient bakery.” They, in turn, produced the not-too-sweet, creamy product that kids were (mostly) happily lapping up last Friday afternoon.

“We’re hoping that their excitement and curiosity overcomes the unfamiliarity of the flavor,” observed parent volunteer Victoria Hamilton.

For the most part, it worked. “Seconds are okay, but no thirds,” cautioned Kindergarten teacher Susan Frenchu as she and her colleague, Susan Heller, scooped up servings.

Both Clare and Yasmin thought that “peach rose geranium!” ice cream was “good.” David made no bones about the fact that he didn’t like the flavor, although he did allow that “it looks good.” Emil weighed in with a “medium good” assessment, and Tony declared that “it tastes like watermelon and peach.” Principal Robert Ginsberg looked happy tucking into a serving of ice cream before dutifully bringing around a garbage bag for the empty cups.

“What do I need to make ice cream?” asked Ms. Frenchu in a teachable moment. “Milk, eggs, sugar, ice, an ice cream maker, and vanilla beans, the young food critics correctly responded. The rose-scented geraniums, they suggested is a “special ingredient” that “makes the ice cream taste more good.”

Located in the back of the school building, JP’s garden consists of several beds of chamomile, fennel, French tarragon, and corn, among other vegetables, herbs, and flowers. A large pair of wooden salad servers, a statue of a monkey, and actual bed posts adorn the various plots, representing contributions from the numerous parent volunteers who have passed through over the years.

“”Gab” and “Matt,” owners of bent spoon, who were described as “big supporters of the Princeton Schools Garden Coop,” were not there for the tasting. “They’re too busy making ice cream,” explained one sensible youngster.

The Princeton School Gardens Cooperative (PSG), which is comprised of both public and private local schools, fosters garden- and food-based education in the classroom, cafeteria, and community. In this instance, it had provided the plants and gave Johnson Park a $200 grant to fund the peach rose geranium project. The ice cream itself was a donation from the bent spoon.

For more information on PSG see

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