Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apple Picking Time in Ruidoso

By Julia Price

During the month of October, staff and volunteers from the New Mexico Alliance for Children took advantage of beautiful weather conditions to organize some fall harvest activities and apple picking/applesauce making with the children of Lincoln County Head Start.

In mid-October, the preschoolers of Capitan Head Start enjoyed picking apples at Smokey's Garden at the Ranger Station on Mechem Drive in Ruidoso. They learned how to make "cowboy-style" applesauce on an outdoor fire, explored the garden, made apple tree art, helped wash and prepare the apples for the sauce. They had the opportunity to sample several varieties of organic, locally grown fruits and veggies with their applesauce and warmed apple cider, as they learned about making healthy food choices. Smokey Bear made a special guest appearance, and afterwards the children ate lunch in the garden before heading back to school.

Thanks to all our staff and volunteers who helped make this a special day for the kids, and thank you to the Forest Service for hosting the event! Our Head Gardener, Roger Allen, and his father Bill Allen, demonstrated applesauce preparation on an outdoor grill. NMAC Program Coordinator/artist Patsy Blasdell guided the children in making a mixed media collage of an apple tree. Ranger Dan Ray helped the children reach apples from the upper boughs of the tree, made warmed apple cider, and assisted Roger in giving a guided tour of Smokey's Garden. Several volunteers helped us prepare a delicious, healthy snack, and the Head Start teachers and parents prepared an outdoor lunch for the kids. The Fall Harvest Celebrations are the culminating event of the year for all of our children at several sites who have spent the last several months learning about healthy eating and creating an organic, environmentally friendly garden space.

Plans are already underway for our next Spring Literacy Project in 2013, to provide ALPHA Literacy for the children of Lincoln County Head Start, along with teacher trainings and parent-child family literacy activities. ALPHA Literacy provides a hands-on sensory integration approach to better reading through music, art, and building active listening skills.

(The author is executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Children).

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