How to get children involved with the vegetable gardenWords by Le Chameau
July 20, 2022
How do i start a garden with children?
For me gardening with my children and the primary school children I teach is all about creating everlasting memories. By creating magical memories, it instils a deeper connection with not just food but also with nature. When creating your garden for children no matter how big or how small make sure your children are a part of the journey from beginning to end. Get drawing your garden out together, creating pictures of your dream garden and pop it on the fridge for inspiration. You can grow an edible garden or in a container or even on your windowsill! I give my children full responsibility of their own patches, from decorating with fairy castles to choosing weird, wonderful colourful vegetables to grow. I believe by growing a rainbow of vegetables it ignites their imagination and makes the journey much more interesting. The most important thing to remember along the way is every mistake you make on your growing adventures is the perfect lesson to learn from so don’t be scared of getting stuck in, every part of your journey is a part of the magic of growing food.
What can children learn from gardening with their parents?
Gardening with children is the most exciting experience, seeing the beauty of nature unfold through the eyes of your children are special moments to treasure. Some key skills are taught when growing food. For me one of the most important parts of growing food is that our children understand where our food really comes from. It's amazing that the majority of children don’t know a potato is dug up from the ground like buried treasure. This simple act of digging up a homegrown potato and seeing the delight on my girls faces then turning it into chips is sheer heaven. Patience is also taught along the way, our children live in a world where everything is so quick and easy, however waiting for your seeds to grow into food takes time, love and a great amount of nurturing. You get much closer to the mini beasts and bugs when you're tending to your edible garden, which gives you the perfect time to explain the benefits of bees, ladybirds and the circle of life that is mother nature. This whole process is an adventure for the whole family and all about creating a healthy connection with food and in turn an appreciation for nature.
What are the benefits of gardening with children?
I can hand on heart say my two girls have completely changed their mindset with eating vegetables since they have started growing their own food. Before we started growing, they were both really fussy and now they eat everything they grow. The magic of watching the seeds they have sown burst through the soil and turn into food has brought to life the story of food right before their very eyes. This lesson in patience brings with it a new appreciation for food and shows children how to not be wasteful. When I watch Winnie grab her basket and set off on the hunt for the evenings dinner or when I find Posie hiding in the wild flower meadow scoffing handfuls of fresh raspberries it fills me with joy. My biggest hope is that they remember the tastes and smells of these precious moments and one day in the future when they are sitting in a restaurant with their own children eating raspberries, it reminds them of the tale of their childhood, and maybe just maybe they might recreate these memories for future generations to come.
How can gardening teach children life skills?
The life skills taught while gardening are endless and also great skills to take forward into adult life. The whole process needs a gentle calm approach as handling seedlings and plants takes care and attention. I use gardening as my therapy. If I need to reset my mind I go outside and weed I do and I have transferred this onto the children. If they are having an emotional day we go outside and dig or weed to get out the stress from the day. Gardening is also the most fantastic form of natural exercise, running around the garden in hunt for butterflies and bugs, breathing in the fresh air and learning from nature along the way. The more time the children spend in nature the more they become connected to the importance of the environment around them and the part each mini beast character plays within the circle of life. This appreciation transforms into compassion and a respect for nature which is key to the future of climate change. If we teach our children the importance of the role each insect or animal has on the world around us, they are more likely to become a champion for environmental action for the future. If I can teach my children a better way to help our future through the act of gardening then to me this is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
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