How Does Your Garden Grow?

Garden to Table Education for Kids

When it comes to introducing children to something important or engaging them in a new activity we generally immerse them in it…and by that I mean we really immerse them. We sign them up for lessons, find them a studio or enroll them in a local team. Next we go shopping for the right gear, possibly find a few YouTube videos, maybe pick up some related books and finally talk it up until they their excitement to at least try their new activity is immeasurable.

Now consider how we introduce a new food or more importantly, fruits and vegetables. We generally go shopping for them when our kids are at school, prepare them while they are busy at that activity we signed them up for and then assume they will want to eat it when we serve it. Imagine for a moment if we totally immersed them instead…in vegetables?!

Rainbow Pizza

Gardening for kids and similar activities to engage kids in growing fruits and vegetables are “sprouting” (pun intended) across the US. These programs are getting kids excited about gardening, teaching numerous lessons, and most importantly leading to increased consumption of produce among children.

The benefits of a farm-to-school curriculum are abundant as has been illustrated by organizations such as the Farm to School Network that has extensive data to support the positive impact gardening can have. There are also many studies, which support gardening’s role in increasing a child’s awareness of and ability to recognize different produce along with the likelihood that a child will consume vegetables. Programs and support are available to help your school or youth association get involved with gardening such as the National Garden Association’s Gardening with Kids organization or through First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, which includes advice on starting a community or school garden.

There are many benefits to starting a home garden as well. Regardless of the size, from a large bed to potted plants, children become motivated to try vegetables when they are involved with growing them. Please keep in mind too, that the lesson extends beyond nutrition to the greater understanding of how a plant grows and what it means to care for this process…in other words, it reminds children that vegetables don’t “grow” in packages at the grocery store.

Of course, if a home garden seems like a large task there are still options for teaching your children these lessons and getting them excited about fruits and vegetables. You can join a community garden or visit a local farm throughout the spring/summer to allow your children to see the plants grow.

Once you have kids excited to eat fruits and vegetables you can think of a variety of ways to prepare and enjoy them. Consider recipes like these for Fruit Salsa, Rainbow Pizza, Fresh Tomato Soup, and Roasted Root Tacos or look for more Guiding Stars recipes using fruits and vegetables on Pinterest.

Do you have an inspiring story to tell about a home, community or school garden that children are helping to bring to life? We want to hear about it! Contact us, tweet or share stories and pictures on Facebook!