ALLEGANY, NY – Education Coordinator Kristin DiLorenzo held out a brown paper bag and invited the children gathered for the afterschool Story Time @ Canticle Farm a chance to guess what was inside.

"Is it hard or soft?” she asked.

One child guessed: "Is it Play-Doh?"

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Another asked, "Is it a radish?"

"No, not a radish," DiLorenzo responded. "But it grows in the same way."

Others ventured: "Carrot?" "Potato?" "Turnip?"

"No," she answered each with an encouraging smile. And she gave a clue: "It can be purple or golden."

What was inside the bag was a beet.

Beets continued to figure into the program. First, a beet was one of the characters in "Veggies with Wedgies," the children's storybook she read to the group. And in the craft session that followed, beets were among the printed vegetable sketches the children colored with paints spread across sheets of cushioned packing wrap.

At the end of Story Time, DiLorenzo served a refreshment: a chocolate birthday cake for her son, Silas, who turned 4 that day.

She told the group that she would reveal the secret ingredient in the cake after they tasted it and let her know if they liked the cake.

They did like the cake, and so she told them the secret ingredient.

It was mashed beets.

And it turned out that Silas, who also was in the company of his older brother Ryder and their dad James, was not the only birthday boy at Story Time. Jace Hagg turned 3 the same day.