Putting the "Sweet" in Sweet Potatoes

“It all started in a garden” can be said of the story of our creation, of the lifestyles of our agrarian ancestors, and, now, it can be said of The Nashville Food Project’s newest partnership with Harvest Hands, a local non-profit working in community development in the Wedgewood area.

For the past few weeks, I have personally been blessed with the opportunity to lead a small group of middle school students from Harvest Hands’ after-school program at Wedgewood Urban Gardens. During these few weeks of partnering, we’ve toured the garden, where the girls got to smell the smells and taste the tastes of a truly organic community garden. Once the girls were acquainted with our space, we had our first day of real work, where the girls got the chance to pull, dig, and eventually enjoy our sweet potatoes during their time in the garden.

We started with some facts about sweet potatoes, and after a short demonstration, we very literally jumped right in, cutting vines, unearthing the beautiful brown potatoes, and getting to understand (for the first time, for some of us!), with our hands as well as our heads, where sweet potatoes come from. It was definitely an adventure, and while we found out that some spiders just shouldn’t be messed with, the satisfaction of harvesting these root vegetables for ourselves was well worth the risk. After the girls were finished harvesting, we brought clipped potato vines to the compost pile, returned our trowels, shovels, and gloves to the toolshed, and went to enjoy a snack of toaster-oven-baked sweet potatoes (after, of course, appropriately washing and sanitizing our hands!) prepared while we were working by TNFP’s own Christina Bentrup. Digging into the still steaming potatoes after a hard day’s work let us experience for ourselves the benefits of this vitamin packed power food, and even the benefits of a little butter on top, which actually promotes our absorption of the potatoes’ rich supply of Vitamin A!

Working with Harvest Hands is a very real and very tangible opportunity for The Nashville Food Project can grow in our communities, where these girls are given the chance to get their hands dirty for the growth and improvement of their own neighborhoods. We are only in the beginning stages of nurturing the seeds of this partnership, but I can’t wait to see what blooms.

Love and potatoes,