Kids love to garden ~ as long as we elders help that love along:)
How can we as parents hook kids on growing their own food for life?
The main ingredient for kids of any age ~ FUN!
This spring, my daughter was given a single bean to plant inside. She named the beloved bean–ready for this–”Beanie,” much to our great shock. She labeled Beanie, watered her and put her in a sunny window. She invested much in Beanie, singing to her, fanning her, telling her stories. Now Beanie is about 5 inches tall and needed a home, so a bean teepee was built for Beanie (methods below). Now, one of her favorite places to be is camped out, making “salad” in the bean teepee.
It’s in this–determining what is really fun for your child–that hooks them on gardening. Here are some other ideas.
Grow What They Eat
The first vegetable my daughter wanted to eat out of the garden was a sweet pea. Imagine that. A sweet pea wanting to eat something as sweet as she!
She proclaimed “these pea pods are just little sacks of sugar!”
She told all her friends in case they hadn’t discovered that definition:)
The first veggie my son loved was the carrot. We looked up different carrot varieties and he got attached to the type called “short and sweet.” From 4 years old to the present, he is in charge of the carrot patch:)
Carrots! Easy to grow with children, wonderfully sweet to eat fresh.
Read for Inspiration
Books about families gardening self sufficiently are wonderful introductions as well. My all time favorite is Oxcart Man. It teaches about the cycle of the seasons and all the family does to make their own food all year. Here is how the beautiful tale begins:
Ox-Cart Man, a beautiful description of self-sufficient living in poetry.
“In October he backed his ox into his cart
and he and his family filled it up
with everything they made or grew all year long
that was left over.”
Another great one for kids is Carrot Soup. Not only is it a hilarious, creative story of a carrot obsessed bunny and his collective of gardener friends, it has a good carrot soup recipe for you and kids to try at the end.
A bean teepee for Beanie:)
Make a Space that Kids Love
If you set aside a corner or two for your little ones, they will love taking ownership of it. Even a 1 x 3 ” plot is enough for a child to grow food they’ll eat through the summer.
Give them a choice of seeds, and help them decide by thinking about what they like to eat. Consider an edible flower to enhance the experience ~ my kids are fascinated by any pretty flower to safely consume.
Consider a bean pole teepee. It sets apart a space that can be just for kids. They will learn to be careful of planted beds and delicate seedlings, and know that they have a sanctuary where they can also creatively play. After all, encouraging kids to love the garden through work is not going to be the most effective ~ that comes later!
Include play space in the garden and your kids will join you:)
A bean teepee can be anything you like, but we like to use skinny lodgepole downed in the forest. Dried river wood offers some wonderful shapes. The teepee itself can be a work of art in your garden.
One thing I did this year that I will now do every year is to save and dry our sunflower stalks for the following year. Those long fibrous stocks dry to rock solid by spring. I leaned them against the garden fence so they wouldn’t rot and let them stand all winter. In spring they were hard as can be and I cut them to make a criss-cross trellis around the teepee. (Beans need stalks smaller than lodgepole to climb:)
We planted three varieties of beans and my daughter took up immediate residence in the teepee. She even asked to sleep there.
Pick the Fruits of Your Labor ~ Together
No matter what, involve your kids in the harvest! The satisfaction of eating off the vine or picking the fruits of your labor is tough to beat.
Encourage the chillins to set up a little veggie stand if your family has extra, and show them the value of home grown food–for belly and pocketbook. Rachelle has a great post about involving kids in local farmer’s markets, FIND YOUR MARKET.
I’ve found that the single most powerful way to encourage your kids to love to garden is simple: eat what you love, and grow what you eat!
At many farmer’s markets across the country you will find carrots ~ possibly the most kid friendly veggie.
Known to granola crunching vegetarians everywhere, The Moosewood Cookbook (1977 edition by Molly Katzen) is a fabulous addition to any chef’s library. The carrot soup here is a modification from the Moosewood.
2 lbs peeled or scrubbed, chopped carrots
4 c stock
1 1/2 t salt
1 medium potato, chopped (optional)
4 T butter
1 c chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 c toasted nuts (pumpkin seeds, cashews or almonds)
1/2 pint heavy cream, or 3/4 c sour cream or plain yogurt
~ 2 pinches of nutmeg, a dash of cinnamon and 1 t grated ginger.
1. Place carrots, stock, salt and potato in a medium sized soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer it for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool to room temp.
2. Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until the onions are clear. You can sprinkle in a little salt to help draw the moisture out of the onions. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the seasoning combo you choose.
3. Puree everything together in a food processor or blender until smooth.
4. Whisk in cream or yogurt just before serving.
5. Garnish with toasted seeds, nuts or toasted croutons and serve.
Happy Gardening from Georgina @ Caramelize Life
Find more carrot soup recipes on KitchenDaily.com
Read more: http://www.slashfood.com/2007/08/21/the-original-moosewood-carrot-soup-recipe/#ixzz1uOeLCI5r