Classes in Ithaca help to promote healthy eating

May 02, 2016 No Comments by

By Annie Uhle and Taylor Zambrano

Ellen Brown of Dancing Turtle Sprout Farm began planting sprouts because they could be planted inside and were not dependent on the weather. She discovered more than just a quick way to grow healthy food — she discovered a passion for growing that she shared with others. Brown said as they went through their first and second year, they found that more and more people were excited about it because it was so different.

“There’s tons of reasons [to grow sprouts]…but the major one would be the nutritiousness of the sprouts, they’re easy and low cost, and can be a really fun way to add something green — easy, easy to prepare, ready to eat.”

Brown taught a class on April 19, called Introduction to Sprouting, which anyone could attend and learn the skills necessary to grow sprouts on their own. This is one example of the many options for organic, clean eating in Ithaca. Other examples include Moosewood, the Farmer’s Market, Greenstar co-op and endless nearby farms that produce their own locally grown food.

Greenstar, a community consumer cooperative in downtown Ithaca ran by those who have Greenstar memberships, has a classroom building apart from its natural foods market specifically catered to hosting classes and workshops. The building is called The Space at Greenstar Co-op.

Pamela Wooster, the organizer for the classes that are hosted at Greenstar, said the co-op has a specific criteria for the classes that they host. Currently, the classes are focused on cooking, with an emphasis on vegetarian cooking classes, but she said they try to pick classes appropriate at the time.

“In April we have a lot of Earth Day themed classes, this is kind of falls into that sprouting,” Wooster said. “On Thursday we have a solar energy class. In the past we’ve had permaculture classes, so that’s Earth Day themed.”

Wooster said the most popular month for classes is January, but then it begins to wean off until the spring, when the number of attendees goes back up, and then again in September and October.

“Maybe that’s because people are starting the new year [in January] and want to do resolutions, you know like weight loss or just eating better, that kind of thing,” she said.

Generally the classes draw about 10 to 15 participants, she said, with their most popular class being one that showed people how to increase their energy levels. That one was given by a nutritionist and had 30 attendees.

Wooster said most of the events and classes hosted in April fall under the theme of Earth Day. Permaculture classes were similar ones that were hosted last year and fell under this theme as well.

“Ithaca’s so rich in naturopathic practitioners of all different types: chiropractic, acupuncture, dieticians, nutrition people, so we try to accommodate people like that too,” she said.

Brown said Dancing Turtle initially began as a farm, but when they didn’t really have anything to sell in the beginning, she began sprouting. Sprouts are healthy and inexpensive, and they don’t require much space to grow.

Brown taught the class her particular method of growing sprouts in large glass jars filled with water. She also gave suggestions as to how the participants can eat and prepare the sprouts.

The class was open to community members of all ages, so children were free to participate as well.

“I think that part of it came from wanting the kids to enjoy growing food,” Brown said. “Just a really small step in getting kids to understand where food comes from, and that growing can actually be pretty exciting, because you can see, as opposed to something growing in the ground, you can see the whole process happening, so sometimes it’s just exciting.”

Harry Seichepin, an adult participating in the class, said he grew sprouts for years and he hadn’t been doing so recently, so he decided to take the class.

“Leaving here I feel really confident that I can do this way better than I’ve been doing it,” he said. “And it’s something that I know is nutritious and good for me and my family, and now I get to do it better.”

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Agriculture, Business, Display slider, Farming

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