I first started celebrating Carrot Day with the Kindergarten, First and Second Grade students in the Garden Project at the South Shore Charter School in about 1998. In 1998 it was a small thing and I did not yet know about the flavor of frost kissed carrots. Carrot Day in its essence is all about a small thing. You plant carrot seeds in the spring and you tend them all summer and come fall and frost you harvest them. It takes land, time, patience, diligence (thinning carrots is no picnic) and then the reward comes, a really great frost kissed carrot.
It is simple.
That simplicity is Carrot Days’ beauty. I have been doing it with students and friends long enough that I have seen how “simple” can matter as folks start gardening and growing their own and the taste of a really good carrots is the catalyst.
The thrill of pulling a carrot out of the ground and wondering “is it going to be big” or “is it going to be tiny” matters.
This year there was a new wrinkle as I celebrated Carrot Day with high school students. I had never gardened with high school student before. The X-Block Gardeners from the Community Charter School of Cambridge (CCSC), most of them seniors, showed me that joy in school is not reserved for the youngest students. Carrot Day at CCSC was as joyous and loving as the Carrot Days I remember celebrating with elementary school students at South Shore. You can see it in their masked faces and I could hear it in their voices. To pull food from the ground and to be in touch with the cycle of sowing and reaping matters no matter the age.
At CCSC on June 18th I planted carrots with a fifth grade student soon to be a new CCSC sixth grader in the fall. 168 days later on December 3rd she and the high school X-Block Gardeners picked and cleaned the carrots. We picked and washed about 200, later that afternoon we ate them and by the end of that day they were all gone. It really is a wonderful feeling to have eighth grade students come up to you and ask, “Do you have anymore carrots?” The next day an eighth grade boy, who often asks me if I have any candy, came up to me and asked if I had any carrots. I had to tell him no they were all gone.
Here are some of the words of the CCSC X-Block Gardeners:
I enjoyed going to the garden and digging up the carrots. My favorite part was finding very large carrots. One highlight was seeing the reactions on my friends’ faces when they picked big carrots. — Last Friday gave me a chance to spend quality time with my current X block buddies. It is senior year and I was able to take a break from my studious learning to pick carrots together with Mr. Hirsch and my X-Block Buddies. Who else is doing it like us! Period!!!! — The carrots were nice. After eating the carrots it was nice to clean up with everybody else in X-Block.
Not bad to have a high school student celebrating cleaning up and to make it even better they finished the cleaning after I left to go teach another class!
One of the concepts of Carrot Day is anyone can do it at any school or any garden. One person who really embraced Carrot Day this year was Christine Godfrey, the librarian at the South Elementary School in Plymouth. Here is what Christine wrote about their Carrot Day at South Elementary School:
The children were thrilled to pull the carrots. I stood outside and a fellow teacher brought out class after class of second graders to me to pull the carrots. Five classes in all. They had planted these carrots as first graders, and of course everyone thought they recognized “their” carrot, lol! In all we pulled 72 HUGE carrots. I mean, I’ve grown carrots at home before and had success, but these were like nothing I’ve ever seen!
Then the day came to actually TASTE the carrots and they were beside themselves. Out of about 125 children only about 3 opted out of tasting. And almost all of them LOVED the carrots! Many, many had second helpings.
Carrot Day is also a family event and some of you sent me pictures of your carrots and two of you sent me pictures of your children and their carrots.
But Carrot Day is not only about big carrots and plentiful harvests it is also about trying. Our neighbors wrote this: “I think the soil wasn’t too good this year, since it was cultivated first time. But the carrots taste good. We like them. Also I will make a side dish from carrot greens for tomorrow. We are so grateful to be able to put food on the table from our own garden.
Thank you for the seeds and thank you for the gardening advice. Hopefully I will do better next year. We will get more seaweed this weekend.”
There are two more Carrot Day Celebrations I want to honor.
On Sunday December 5th we had Carrot Day at 41 Western Ave in Hull with the neighborhood kids and their grownups. There were seven children and seven grownups. It was simple. We pulled carrots, we ate carrots, and the children played and the adults talked. An hour later and the children were still playing and still eating their really big carrots.
I need to end this blog with deep thanks to June Fontaine who continues to celebrate Carrot Day at South Shore Charter, the birth place of Carrot Day. Below is a an excerpt of what she wrote about South Shore’s Carrot Day:
“Last spring the garden became a special place to gather during the pandemic. The crops grown were cucumbers, pumpkins and carrots. All three crops did well. …. We waited until the first frost to harvest the carrots, Excitement was in the air among all the children on Carrot Day. Cries of “We have another baby carrot!’ could be heard as frequently as exclamations about bigger carrots. We decorated paper bags to send the surplus carrots to a local food pantry with a group of our middle school students, just in time for Thanksgiving! Several of those students had been in the Garden Project when they were in first and second grade, so they were happy to be connected with that once again. We were so glad the carrots would be enjoyed by the wider community. A special thanks to Derik for keeping the garden up and running during the pandemic, and to the families who helped out with watering and weeding during the summer break. We’re looking forward to carrot day, 2022 already!“
Be well and join us for Carrot Day in 2022, I am ordering seeds soon and would love to send you seeds come spring.