Lafayette 4-H Club-October Meeting
Lafayette 4-H Club members decorated pumpkins and learned about sweet potatoes at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Chris Vann(4-H/Ag Agent) gave a presentation on the history of the sweet potato and also how to grow and cook them. Jana Hart (FCS/4-H) talked to the kids about pumpkins and how the Jack-O-Lantern tradition came about.
Before the decorating of the pumpkins began, the kids enjoyed eating pumpkin pie and pumpkin ice cream while Mr. Vann discussed pumpkin and sweet potato facts.
Sweet Potato Facts
- Central Americans were raising sweet potatoes when Christopher Columbus first landed on their shores in 1492. He liked the vegetable so much that on his fourth voyage, he took some home to grow in Europe.
- Explorer Fernando De Soto became the first European to find Indian-grown sweet potatoes on the continent.
- U.S historians say easy-to-grow, highly nutritious sweet potatoes were a major factor in keeping hunger from the door through such tough times as the early European colonies, Revolutionary War, Civil War and Great Depression.
- Before George Washington became a general and the first U.S. President, he was a sweet potato farmer.
- The sweet potato is no potato. The plant is a member of the morning glory family, and it produces bulging food-storage roots that are edible. In contrast, the white (Irish) potato plant is a nightshade family member that produces swollen underground stems called tubers.
- If handled gently, unwashed sweet potatoes can store well for weeks or even months in a dry, cool (55-60F) location.
- Fresh sweet potatoes stored in a modern refrigerator develop an off-taste and a hard core in the center.
- Outside of the tropics, sweet potatoes thrive only in the warmer temperate climates, and do best in a loose sandy soil that is well drained.
- Sweet potatoes are considered a highly nutritious food
- Rich in Vitamin A and C, which are effective antioxidants
- Rich in minerals
- Low in calories and have no fat
- Good source of beta-carotene, potassium and Vitamin A
- Come in many shapes, sizes and colors
- Member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zuchinni.
- The largest pumpkin pie ever made was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.
- There are several different varieties of pumpkins; show pumpkins, pie pumpkins, jack-o-lantern pumpkins and ornamental pumpkins, just to name a few.
- Pumpkins planted in the spring mature in about 100 days and produce the best yields.
- Pumpkins keep for a few weeks, but long time storage of 1-4 months is hard to accomplish in Florida
- Store pumpkins in a dry and cool (50-60F) place. Spread them out rather than stacking them.
- Low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium
- Good source of Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, niacin, Folate, Iron and Magnesium.
- Rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese.
- Low in calories, when used for recipes other than pie.
- Good for you heart
If you would like to learn about planting and growing sweet potatoes or pumpkins, you can visit edis.ifas.ufl.edu or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agricultural Agent.
If you would like to learn more about 4-H visit florida4-H.org
Chris Vann- Extension Agent- Agriculture/4-H