I don’t think I will ever live down the kohlrabi lesson. With just over two months into my FoodCorps service year in Red Lodge, I still get the most comments about kohlrabi, which is perhaps the silliest vegetable there is.

Last week I decided to stop in to one of my third grade class’ Halloween parties to say hi and show off my decidedly silly costume: a Brussels sprouts stalk.

I talked to the kids, bounced around a bit in my brussels balloons, and eventually ended up talking to a student’s mom that had come in for the party. She wanted to tell me that her daughter has been raving about the garden class, telling her all about the new vegetables she has tried. “What was that one…? Kohl…something-or-other. She loved that one.”

Kohlrabi. Of course.

The second lesson I taught each of my classes was an introduction to ‘the chubby little alien’ that is kohlrabi. Upon arriving in Red Lodge in late August I inherited a wonderful garden planted by the previous FoodCorps service member, Alyssa Charney, and the elementary school classes. At the time, the youth garden was flush with kohlrabi. I harvested the bounty of kohlrabi to bring into my classes, taking in a full plant along with some cut up samples for the kids to taste. I also drew up a coloring sheet to hand out to the students. The lesson introduced the vegetable, gave a quick rendition of the ever popular ‘plant parts dance,’ and then we tasted salted kohlrabi sticks together. Then the students got to work on decorating their kohlrabi drawing. Over the past two months I’ve learned a lot about the power of personality when promoting new veggies. That afternoon I made sure to give the kohlrabi a personality when I introduced it to the classes. I had my students give their kohlrabi unique personalities, too. I encouraged them to get wild with their drawings, color outside the lines, add arms, legs, give the vegetable a little attitude. They loved it. Their drawings, as you can see, are totally creative. At the end of the class, I even had a kid offer to buy the other kohlrabi from me. I was surprised when a month or so after this initial lesson, while playing a round of vegetable charades, that all the kids kept guessing kohlrabi. Every time. It must have really stuck.

I like to bring a healthy dose of silliness to my classes. If I talk about this strange looking plant like it’s my friend, then maybe the kids will want to be friends with it too. I believe in silliness.. I like to draw silly vegetables with my students, play games, and even dress up like a vegetable every once in a while. Kids shouldn’t feel intimidated by trying new things. If I have to be the first one to get goofy, then I am more than happy to do so.

Written by Emily Howe, FoodCorps service member in Red Lodge, MT.