Bringing Children Into the Garden and Those Veggies Onto Their Plates
“Eat your veggies or no dessert!”
Have you ever said those words? Has someone said them to you? If you are a parent, the answer might be yes to both questions. It is well known fact that parents have struggled to encourage their children to eat their vegetables. There they are sitting there getting cold, soggy and sad. There on the plate next to all stars like mac n’ cheese and fried chicken, that broccoli looks so lonely, so uninviting. How can we change this story?
Studies have shown that children who take part in gardening fruits and vegetables are much more likely to want to eat those foods (PFLEGER, 2015). Urban gardening is a great way to involve children in the growing of their food and improve their understanding of where their food comes from. A program in Colorado called Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), works with local schools in the area to build gardens on their campuses. The produce is then sold to the school lunch programs and the children get to eat the vegetables they have helped grow.
Gardening With Young Children has Many Benefits
- Children Can Practice Motor Skills– Watering, using small tools and grasping delicate plants are all important in motor skill development.
- Sensory Stimulation– Playing with water, the soil and plants and enjoying the different textures and smells, are all important in a child’s development.
- Visual Beauty and New Flavors– Teach children an early appreciation for nature’s beauty and at the same time familiarize them with food outside the dinning room.
- Literacy– Teaching children the names of plants and vegetables can be a useful way to familiarize them with nature and help them with reading and writing.
- Cognitive development– Strengthen children’s cognitive skills by teaching the growing process and by predicting outcomes such as, watering needs, growth and care.
- Togetherness– Being outside and in the fresh air with your children is good for their mental and physical health. (Butche, 2017)
If They Grow Them, They Will Eat
Any activity spent with your children is a worth while one. Building a garden at home is a great way for you to spend time with your family and teach/learn important lessons, like how to grow specific crops, what plants need to survive and thrive and a sense of responsibility in the care of something living. Here are some great crops that are perfect for growing at home with your children:
- Green Beans– These vegetables are a great option as they are relatively easy to grow and fun to eat. They also help fix nitrogen into your soil making them a great addition to any home garden.
- Cherry Tomatoes– Everyone loves home grown tomatoes! Cherry tomatoes taste great, are fun to eat, and are super easy to grow.
- Potatoes– Everyone loves French fries! Potatoes are a great home garden option because you can grow them in a container or even a bucket. This is the best option as well, because potatoes can take over your garden if you plant them directly in the soil. (ProTip: harvest the potatoes when the flowers on the plant die).
- Carrots– What kid doesn’t want to be like Bugs Bunny munching on a carrot? These orange roots are a great idea for the home garden because they can survive most climates and they are delicious! (Run Wild My Child, 2019)
I hope that you all will take these ideas and bring your children and/or yourselves out into the garden and start growing!
Butche, K. (2017, 4 24). Gardening with young children helps their development. Retrieved from Michigan State University: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/gardening_with_young_children_helps_their_development
PFLEGER, P. (2015, 8 10). Healthy Eaters, Strong Minds: What School Gardens Teach Kids. Retrieved from The Salt: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/08/10/426741473/healthy-eaters-strong-minds-what-school-gardens-teach-kids
Run Wild My Child. (2019, July 5). Gardening with Kids: 5 Easy Vegetables to Grow. Retrieved from Run Wild My Child: https://runwildmychild.com/easy-vegetables-to-grow-with-kids/#:~:text=Green%20beans%20are%20perfect%20for%20growing%20in%20a,spot%20and%20can%20also%20be%20grown%20in%20pots.