When the Frost Hands you Lemons

Our winter has been unseasonably cold. In the beginning, DH hustled out each evening with drop cloth to protect our beautiful plants from the frost and now, we’ve thrown in the drop cloth so to speak. We’re patiently waiting for spring warmth to see what might emerge and recover from our brown and crispy landscape. At the same time, across town I did find a group however that was quite productive when they heard the frost was near.

Using Local Ag to Build Community and Microenterprise!

7th grader, Kaela H., worked with the other members of the Tumbleweeds 4-H club to juice 45 lbs of lemons before the frost made mush of them. The crew worked together to create lemon juice, make it into a salable product, construct a marketing campaign and operate their neighborhood lemonade stand on a recent weekend. They created a memories, lasting knowledge and a source of community.

Ok, in full disclosure, I was a long-time 4H kid.  But what I recently learned was that the original 4-H intent was to create practical and “hands-on” learning. The idea sprang from a desire to make public school education more connected to country life. I could swear that I’ve heard many of us say that we want our kids to know where their food comes from. To me, that sounds like alignment.

Of course 4H is not new. Nor are lemonade stands but when I really take them apart and examine what’s going on, isn’t a 4H lemonade stand perfectly symbolic of what we ought to be trying to accomplish in our communities today?

1. They’re accessing locally grown produce – check

2. The kids are doing the work themselves and learning skills and becoming self reliant – check

3. The community members come together to purchase lemonade and support a locally owned business – check

4. In creating the lemonade stand, the kids learn about micro-enterprise in the food industry – check

5. Twenty percent of the proceeds of Kaela’s stand are donated to the Humane Society cultivating a sense of philanthropy – check

6. The stand itself creates an opportunity for neighbors to gather for refreshments, to talk, and to be neighborly – check

Here’s a video of Kaela and her friends explaining how they went about their project:

I’m happy to know that 4H is alive and well. While my own kids likely have ample activities without it, it’s definitely an organization they would benefit from. In fact, I think we would all benefit from being a little more 4H like.

Consider the 4H pledge:

I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

Tumbleweed’s 4-H Club Lemonade
Ingredients:
  • Fresh local lemon juice
  • water
  • sugar
2 parts lemon juice, 2 parts water, 1 part sugar.  Served over a lot of ice. The kids also taste-tested after juicing the lemons to make sure the recipe was a good one.
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68 Comments

  1. Without 4H my childhood would have been bleak.
    You are an awesome parent and the kids are great!

    Reply
  2. sarah kriehn

     /  February 24, 2011

    Loved it….and very true….I was a 4-H’er. sarah

    Reply
  3. How perfectly wonderful! I am so impressed with the industry and follow-through of all those young people! I have been a life-long admirer of 4-H, but never was a member – although I had cousins very involved in it – raising steer, etc. They lived in the country, while until recently, I never did!

    Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. Congrats to the people involved. How much did they make for the Humane Society (another very worthy cause!)?

    BTW, speaking of the unseasonably cold weather, we have a sweeet cherry tree in our back yard (remember the photos of our cherry harvest?). While we have owned the house for 5 years now, this year was the first year we have had any cherries. We thought it was an apple tree, actually, because it looked so similar to the apple trees in our yard! Turns out that last Spring, while it might have been a little later than usual, once it came, it didn’t go away! Consequently, when the cherry tree bloomed, there was no hard frost to follow and thus kill the budding fruit! Around here, generally the warmish clear days of early Spring are generally followed by a retreat back to winter, and as cherry trees don’t handle that weather very well, such a good Spring was a great gift! WOW!

    We’re hoping for the same Spring this year, but it doesn’t look promising. Owing to a warmish spell recently, all our bulbs are coming up. They are destined to an early death, unfortunately, because March is usually our harshest month, and we get lots of frost and snow then. Hopefully our cherry tree won’t be fooled into blooming yet!

    Reply
    • Lisa H

       /  February 24, 2011

      Thanks so much for the support! The kids made $180, so $45 will go to the Humane Society. These kids did everything on their own–made signs, squeezed the lemons, made the lemonade and handled the sales. It’s a great reminder that 4-H isn’t just about raising livestock, but also about building life skills.

      Reply
  4. I enjoyed this post. It’s such a pleasure to see kids doing things like that! For many years the 4-H exhibits at the fair have been my favorite part and they receive a lot of support in this rural area, which I’m very glad to see.

    Reply
  5. First time I ever heard of 3H, wonderful initiative.

    Reply
  6. Very smart use of lemons. What sweet, enterprising girls. Their lemonade stand involved a lot of work and commitment. Blessings to these generous, energetic, industrious, future leaders…

    Reply
    • Lisa H

       /  February 24, 2011

      Thank you! I will certainly pass on your encouraging words to the group.

      Reply
    • Lisa H

       /  February 24, 2011

      p.s. my group consists of 5 girls and one boy (for some reason he didn’t make it into the video, he probably just stepped away for a bit).

      Reply
  7. Great segway between a lemonade stand and local food movement. It’s more than symbolic, it IS local. Good job kids and good post, Tammy.

    Reply
    • Lisa H

       /  February 24, 2011

      Thank you! Their success was due to the fabulous response from family, friends, neighbors, and those just stopping by because they followed the signs. It really was a community event.

      Reply
  8. Way to go, you incredibly aware young people. The attitude you are taking into adulthood will hold you in such great stead! Bravo to all who encouraged this type of project.

    Reply
  9. Lisa H

     /  February 24, 2011

    Thank you! It’s wonderful to see the kids thinking of others, especially at their ages (11 to 13).

    Reply
  10. Tammy, I haven’t thought much about 4-H for years, but this brought back a lot of memories from childhood. I especially remember taking dog obedience classes, knitting (my mom taught), and sewing (I made a pair of polka-dot pants…arghh! the last thing I ever sewed like that). The kids at our small two-room elementary school have 4-H one week a month and I know they all like it.

    It does have a lot of good values. Great post!

    Reply
  11. Oh how brilliant! What amazing, dedicated kiddlywinks! Big applause for them :)

    Reply
  12. Sandy

     /  February 24, 2011

    Thanks, Tammy, for including the 4-H Pledge — I couldn’t have recalled it but it came zooming back as I read it.

    When I was in Illinois last year for Dad’s funeral, I was talking with a gal that stayed in the Boy’s 4-H (yes, separate clubs but not restricted) longer than I. She shared with me how my Dad, as her 4-H leader, encouraged her to become club President. Decades later she’s relaying those 4-H memories and how the club and Dad positively impacted her life. Very special.

    Reply
  13. Excellent post, Tammy.

    Glad that the lemons were put to good use after being saved from the frost ~ and that the enterprise benefited the kids, the community, and the Humane Society.

    One quick fix: At the same town, across town ~ same time?

    Reply
  14. 4H sounds fab. I wish my kids had one nearby. It reminds me of Country Baby, that wonderful way of using apple sauce in the Diane Keaton movie long ago :-)

    Reply
  15. Kath (My Funny Little Life)

     /  February 25, 2011

    I’m very much appreciating the attempt of connecting school education with country life! Thinking back of my own school time, I regret that I didn’t have any classes on nutrition, cooking, growing foods, and things like that. It doesn’t simply come from the supermarket, no?! But there’s no awareness of what we live on, or too little at least. I had to learn it all on my own, and it gave me a feeling of gratitude. I think most people still don’t think about it at all. That makes me sad.

    Reply
    • That’s why I think it’s so great that some groups and parents are thinking about it and teaching it.

      Reply
    • Lisa H

       /  March 3, 2011

      Here in Arizona, we have the Annual Arizona Agriculture Literacy Days. This takes place around the Thanksgiving holiday, so it’s a great time to talk to 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders about where their food comes from. A volunteer is given a book that we take into the classroom to read to the kids. We then discuss where our food comes from–turkeys don’t grow in shrink wrap (the kids love that one). Later in the year, the kids at our school have a field trip to a local farm. They get to pick vegetables out of the ground, look at the farming equipment and have a bit of farm experience. It’s a wonderful day that many kids remember years later.

      Reply
  16. I love your blog!

    Reply
  17. I always loved 4H. I remember making an apron and it was so good they didn’t think I did it. lol.

    Reply
  18. Just the thought of fresh lemons and lemonade warms my heart. We’re under three feet of snow here in New Hampshire, with more coming tonight. I’ll think of your industrious neighbors when I enjoy my next not-local-at-all lemon. Thanks!

    Reply
  19. Kevin

     /  February 26, 2011

    That’s outstanding! Way to go Kaela! I never did 4-H, but it reminds me a little of being in the scouts with your dad and uncle John and uncle Eric.

    Reply
  20. Vickie

     /  February 26, 2011

    I am soooo impressed – both with the blog (hurray for local, slow foods!!!) and how much everyone (the kids – Kaela is so well spoken and just beautiful, the parents, the community) are working together to learn and practice such important concepts which benefit all of us. I wish I was with you to sample that delicious lemonade.

    Reply
  21. It’s good to see girls that old doing a lemonade stand. It’s such a good learning experience for them!

    I have a rule: Whenever you pass a kid with a lemonade stand, buy a glass.

    Reply
  22. 45 lbs of lemons? Wow, that seriously is some dedication!

    What a great club and bunch of kids!

    Reply
    • Isn’t that amazing? I was shocked when they said that it only took an hour to juice them.

      Reply
    • Lisa

       /  February 27, 2011

      One of the best parts of all that juicing? They cleaned it all up when they were finished! They had quite the system, splitting up the tasks and rotating so that everyone participated in each part of the process. We used two juicers: the press kind, and my Nana’s electric Sunkist juicer. The weather was wonderful, too, so we juiced outside.

      Reply
  23. Inspiring post! I wish I lived some place where lemons were a local fruit…

    Reply
  24. Yet again, you took what could have been an ordinary event, into something insightful and extraordinary. Why can’t the rest of us be like them, and learn how to make our lemons into lemonade– before the frost gets to them.

    Reply
  25. have never heard of 4H before but it sounds like a fantastic project. and I love home made lemonade. nice post Tammy.

    Reply
    • Thanks Myra. I didn’t realize 4H was US centric until I did this post but it’s a wonderful organization and the kids get life-long lessons from it.

      Reply
  26. This sounds like a wonderful project. I love seeing kids doing something like this :)

    Reply
  27. So basic, yet so profound. Gives one a lot to think about. I just love it. Great post.

    Reply
  28. Wonderful post and an awesome thing for the kids to do! I also bet that was the best tasting lemonade. (Beats the dried powder mixes any day!)

    Reply
  29. Garden Grower

     /  March 3, 2011

    4H is a wonderful program. My kids were involved with it for a while and I know many youth who are very active in it. Totally agree with your post! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  30. I was a 4-Her as a kid and I just had an amazing experience, it is opens up your minds to plenty of opportunities, and you don’t have to be a “country” kid to take advantage of all the incredible activities they have to do.

    Reply
  31. Its crazy to read that your weather has been unseasonably cold, and we have just had the longest hot streak in history. Im not batting for one side on the other on the climate change debate, but I can tell you one thing, my garden has been obliterated. We had a few weeks where the temp was just hanging around the 38C/100F mark, but the whole summer has just been crazy, no let up at all! How I look forward to hopefully some Autumn rain, but even that is looking unlikely!

    Reply
    • I’m sorry about your garden and I am willing to say that it’s part of the climate change issue. We’re likely to face an incredibly hot summer.

      Reply

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