This spring, I have been busy cultivating a new organic garden at my home. With the help of a very seasoned gardener whom I adore, I have learned about the right soil (apparently, this IS the key to a great garden), drainage, sunlight, how to plant seeds and seedlings, and specific growing information about each of the vegetables we’ve decided to plant. We have tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, peppers, kale (my favorite), swiss chard and all sorts of varieties of lettuces and herbs. And, at the request of my children, we’ve just included strawberries.
While my children have always been involved in the food process, growing a vegetable garden has been a new and magical process for them. There’s always something exciting happening, from the bud of a new strawberry, to pulling our first lettuces, to watching a seed that has germinated emerge from the earth. It’s a chance for us, together, to feel connection with the earth and the bounty it offers us as we explore the natural world.
Involvement in a vegetable garden will teach your children:
1. Garden care basics, such as seeding, watering, weeding, and cultivating.
2. About plants, life cycles, water and the weather
3. Patience. Watching for seeds to germinate and break through the earth is a slow process, but well worth the wait.
4. To learn how to make something from nothing.
5. To try new vegetables. Children are more open to trying new foods that they have been involved in cooking or, in this case, creating.
6. To develop a true understanding of where real, whole food comes from
7. About the earth, sustainability and how to eat locally
8. To share their bounty. Deliver your surplus to family, neighbors and friends.
Gardens are wonderful for developing an appreciation of food in our children and for improving our own health, the health of our family, our friends and the earth.
I have opened our Long Island home to a small class of children for cooking classes this summer, in July. Included as part of the program is time spent cultivating the garden and using our own harvest to prepare simple, healthy kid-friendly meals. If you are interested in having your children join us, click here for more information.