Utica – On Feb. 16, Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon visited a kindergarten classroom at Columbus Elementary School to read a book and plant seeds for New York Agriculture in the Classroom (NYAITC) organized by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE). Volunteers went into over 100 classrooms to read to students in kindergarten through third grade.
The selected book for 2023 was Tomatos for Neela written by Padma Lakshmi and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. The book is about the main character, Neela and her mom cooking a tomato sauce recipe her grandmother passed down.
CCE supplied Assemblywoman Buttenschon with the story book and supplies needed to plant tomato and basil seeds with the class. Many of the students were excited to read the book with Assemblywoman Buttenschon. Students shared what recipes their parents made at home and talked about their favorite foods.
After the book was read by Assemblywoman Buttenschon, the class made their way to their desks to start the planting activity. Each student was given two cups with soil, two tomato seeds and two basil seeds. Assemblywoman Buttenschon explained to the class what plants need to grow and how to take care of them. Teachers and Assemblywoman Buttenschon helped students plant and water the seeds.
Since 1985, CCE has organized NYAITC. It is a partnership of Cornell University, the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets, the NYS Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the New York Farm Bureau. Its mission is to foster awareness, understanding, and appreciation of how we produce food and fiber, what we eat, and how we live, by helping educators, students, and their communities learn about and engage with agriculture and food systems.