Role of Teacher
Ingredients: Buckwheat flour / Salt / Baking powder / Vinegar / Olive oil / Water
Equipment: Mixing bowls and spoons / Measuring cups and spoons / Bread pans (one per group)
- Cover crops, also known as “green manure” to experienced farmers and gardeners, are crops sown in the late fall to provide cover and nutrients for the soil during the winter when nothing is growing in the garden. There are many different types of cover crops including rye, wheat, clover, barley, oat, buckwheat, and hairy vetch. While some of these cover crops sound like foods we’ve eaten before (i.e. oats, barley, rye, etc.) cover crops are generally not harvested, but rather tilled back into the soil at the end of the winter and left to decompose in the soil, thus providing more organic matter and nutrients to the garden.
- Cover crops are beneficial for many reasons! Because many cover crops are legumes, they fix nitrogen in the soil as they grow. Then, when tilled back into the soil at the end of winter, they provide organic matter and even more nutrients. Cover crops also help suppress weeds by taking up all of the space where weeds would normally want to grow during the off-season. Many cover crops provide nectar and attract pollinators, which help deter many pests and reduce the need for chemical pesticides. The roots of cover crops help reduce soil erosion by holding on to the soil during heavy wind and absorbing much moisture during periods of heavy rain.
Topics / Goals / Learning Objectives
- To understand what cover crops are and why they are used.
- To learn how to make a healthy bread.
Opening / Hook
Welcome to the teaching kitchen today! As the weather gets cooler and we slowly transition our closets from being filled with shorts and sandals to being filled with warm coats and woolly socks, we must also transition our garden for the coming winter. Does anyone know what cover crops are? (Allow time for brainstorming.)
Cover crops, also known as “green manure” to experienced farmers and gardeners, are crops sown in the late fall to provide cover and nutrients for the soil during the winter when nothing is growing in the garden. There are many different types of cover crops including rye, wheat, clover, barley, oat, buckwheat, and hairy vetch. Cover crops are used for a variety of reasons, many of which prevent gardeners and farmers from having to rely on chemical pesticides and fertilizers and allow them to farm and garden more sustainabiy.
While we learn about the different reasons for using cover crops we are going to make bread featuring many of the types of cover crops used by gardeners to put their beds to sleep. Let’s begin!
Procedures / Activities
Prep: Gather ingredients and print out the Prep Station handouts.
- Welcome students to the teaching kitchen and introduce the lesson with the Opening above.
- As the students begin to prepare the bread, walk around and offer assistance to anyone who needs help. Make sure they are adding the proper amount of ingredients, measuring correctly, etc.
- When the students are finished preparing the bread dough and are ready to bake, put bread into the oven. The bread will not be finished in time for the students to eat during that class, but you can save the bread for the following class (Cover Crops Part II) or for the next Recipe of the Month class (Root Vegetable Soup).
- While the bread is baking, go over all of the ways in which cover crops help the soil.
- Before the end of class, tell the students that they will be clearing the beds and sowing cover crops during the next class (and maybe eating their bread, too!).
Extensions / Adaptations / Games
Go over the different types of cover crops and think of all of the foods we eat that contain those cover crops.
Credit for Adaptation
Helping the Soil with Cover Crops, The New York Botanical Gardens. www.nybg.org