What Does It Mean To Be Green?

By Erin Dodds, Chairman of the Green Committee

Since 1971 when Fred Weirdsma founded the small nursery school that would eventually become PIFS, our focus has always been on the outdoors and connecting our children with nature. We never had to “go green” because we always were “green.” Our Smokey’s Bounders were hiking the campus, tapping maple trees, planting seedlings and learning about our environment long before other pre-schools realized they should put away the worksheets and get their students outside.

PIFS was named a Connecticut Green LEAF School last spring, the first preschool in Greenwich to earn that designation and the second overall in the state of Connecticut. The number one thing we have learned from the Green LEAF program so far is that being green is all about the journey. As parents, we are bombarded with information and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed. Well, the Green Committee feels the same way. Every time you click on a link, read an article or scroll through Facebook, you start to think about all the different things you aren’t doing but should be doing. Many schools are far ahead of us in energy conservation. Yet many schools look to us as a shining example of integrating the outdoors into the curriculum or teaching students about the concept of “farm to table” with our gardens. Joining the consortium of Connecticut Green LEAF Schools gives us access to schools across the state that share the same goal: to improve the health and wellness of students and mitigate our impact on the local environment.

One of my favorite things about PIFS is the occasional educational Parent Programs. Since becoming a PIFS parent six years ago, they have always been a great way to connect with other parents and soak up all the expert advice I can handle. We are thrilled that our first Parent Program of this school year will be held October 26th 10:00 a.m. – Noon. The Green Committee is pleased to welcome Toby Cone and Amy Clark, founding members of Greening Our Children. Join us to learn easy ways you can reduce direct exposure to chemicals and choose high quality, safer products for your family as Toby and Amy discuss “12 Simple Steps to a Healthier Home.” Toby and Amy understand that we are all busy parents who want the best for our children. It’s impossible to be perfect, but we don’t want to give up. It’s all about the journey and they are here to help us kick off a great year!

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RecipeHomemade Hummus

  • 2 cups canned organic chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup tahini (omit if you or child has an allergy to sesame)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2 TBSP of reserved liquid from the canned chickpeas
  • 4 cloves of garlic (or omit if your child doesn’t like it)

First add the garlic to a food processor and mince. I often remove some at this point so my kids can adjust the garlic content later. Then, add the chickpeas, reserved water from the chickpeas, salt, some of the lemon juice, the tahini, and process until almost smooth. This is a great time to taste the mixture and add more lemon or minced garlic if desired. When the taste is just right, process until smooth. Serve with fresh carrots, peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, pita or even pretzels. I usually drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top, just before serving.

This is an Ina Garten recipe that I like to play around with and adapt to my daughters’ tastes. They love sampling it as we go and shouting, “It needs more lemon”, or “That’s enough garlic”. You really can’t go wrong. It also works without the tahini if you are making it for someone who is allergic to sesame. I usually drizzle a little olive oil into it while it’s mixing if I omit the tahini.

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