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8:18 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Making prickly-pear jam teaches kids about native foods

The Daily Courier/Jo.L. Keener
Ana Sullivan of GraniteMountain Middle School’s life Skills class puts the squeeze on a prickly pear’s fruit as the class made jelly from the fruit. Prescott College’s Willa Thorpe instructed the class.

The Daily Courier/Jo.L. Keener Ana Sullivan of GraniteMountain Middle School’s life Skills class puts the squeeze on a prickly pear’s fruit as the class made jelly from the fruit. Prescott College’s Willa Thorpe instructed the class.

PRESCOTT - Elizabeth Couvreur's life skills class at Granite Mountain Middle School covers a little more than learning to sew and bake.

Her students spent this past week making prickly pear jelly, fruit roll-ups and popsicles. Two Prescott College students showed the kids how to utilize the Southwest's natural food sources.

"We've been studying where our food comes from," Couvreur said. "Kids these days, they're so divorced from knowing where their food and their clothing comes from."

Couvreur said she wants to teach the kids about soil, how to prepare it, how to compost, and how to grow food people can eat.

"We're processing prickly pears. I'm squishing mine to death," said 14-year-old Emily McClure as she smiled and jammed a wooden block into a bowl filled with the fruit.

With the juice, the kids went on to make their foods.

"It's really fun," Emily said.

Nathan Burk, 24, is a senior at Prescott College. This was his project to fulfill his two-week student teaching requirements. He put together the prickly pear curriculum for Couvreur's class.

"The kids will write up instructions and recipes each day (to do at home)," Burk said.

His assistant, 25-year-old Willa Thorpe, helped Burk as part of her senior project at Prescott College.

"We're showing these kids how this plant they see every day can be turned into food," Thorpe said.

Both Prescott College students visibly enjoyed showing the middle-schoolers about native agriculture.

They taught the kids how to sand and burn off the "pricklies" from the fruit, how to extract the juice, then how to make jam, fruit roll-ups, or popsicles with it.

Couvreur said her eventual goal is to grow a garden at Granite Mountain.

She wants students to be aware that food grows out of the ground, not out of Safeway or Albertsons.

Contact the reporter at slopatin@prescottaz.com