We had a really nice homeschool group class at the Queens Botanical Garden on Friday. The class was called "Plants in the Lives of the First Americans". It started out in a classroom adjacent to a small greenhouse. The instructor talked about the First Americans (American Indians) and how they used their environment to live in their world. He talked about wigwams, longhouses, birch bark canoes, maple syrup, food staples (like the "three sisters" - corn, beans, and squash), and picture symbols. The kids, as usual, were full of questions and answers. Then we went outside to walk along the garden paths. As we passed various plants, trees, and flowers, the instructor explained what they were and what they were used for. Many were for food, others for medicine, others used for shelter and transportation.
The culmination of the class was foraging for wild greens to make a salad. The kids were shown different plants like chickweed and wild strawberries and told to go off and find some. They also got to taste cool looking flowers and leaves. We got back to the classroom with all the stuff we picked. The kids ripped up the leaves and the instructor added sunflower seeds, corn, and a dressing he made out of sunflower oil, cider vinegar (the first Americans made their vinegar out of crabapples), and maple syrup. We all got a plate of salad, and it was actually pretty good!