Under a bright morning sun, parents and children from the community around Nathanael Greene Elementary School gathered to pull weeds from the school’s garden and harvest verdolagas, Mexican parsley. Greene is located in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood, a predominantly immigrant and Latino neighborhood.
Two parents on the garden team at Greene, Ana Santander and Gabriela Vasquez, used to grow verdolagas in Mexico and were showing other parents and children how to identify the green-leafed plant. The children also pulled radishes, beets and carrots from the garden.
Greene harvested the first vegetables from its school garden in 2013 and has an active garden team and student garden club. Just this spring, the garden club harvested kale and lettuce that were served in the school cafeteria. The success of the garden is linked to active participation from the community and allowing the parents to have a voice in deciding what items are grown.
The summer harvest ended with a recipe demonstration: tostada with pico de gallo and avocado. Parents helped wash the verdolagas and remove the stems. Chopped verdolagas were then added to chopped avocado and prepared pico de gallo and piled on a tostada. Verdolagas is reminiscent of spinach and can be used in similar recipes, such as soups—and it has just as much beta carotene.