Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Kids to Garden

My second "Sustainable Tip" that I wrote for Growcology's January email newsletter:

The growing problem of childhood obesity has become a big story over the last few years, especially when first lady Michelle Obama claimed it as one of her top priorities. While snacking less and exercising more are obviously the first things kids should do to maintain healthy weights, I believe that sparking a connection to the origins of kids’ food helps them to develop healthy eating habits as well. This starts in our home gardens.

Even very young children can comprehend the planting of a seed and its later growth into a plant that provides nourishment. Give your child a small garden area or container in which she can plant the seeds or seedlings of any vegetables she may like, such as snap peas, tomatoes or lettuce. This will be your child’s own garden, with your child’s own plants. Adding a little handmade sign can help reinforce your child’s “ownership” of the garden. Remind your child daily to check the garden, to watch the plants grow and to care for them by watering and weeding them. Allow your child to get dirty! Very young children will probably need some help to ensure the plants’ survival.

Nearby, plant your vegetable garden. When you are working in your own plot, point out to your child what vegetables you are growing, from seedling to flowering to vegetable development. Use signage, and identify the plants for your child again and again. You should at any time allow your child to pick vegetables and eat them straight from the garden. Peas and lettuce are especially good for fresh eating!

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