Growing your own vegetables, fruit or herbs provides a wonderful experience for children to learn that food does not grow in plastic at supermarkets, develop respect for nature and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing something grow from their efforts. I recently planted two veggie patches and a potted fruit tree at a local kindergarten. The children could not wait to get planting and loved the experience. They now do daily veggie patch related art, cooking, measuring and watering and the feedback from the kids and parents has been amazing! Here are the top six reasons why you should get your kids growing:1. Amazing taste. This is, for my the biggie. Have you tasted the difference between supermarket tomatoes and heirloom ones? Or supermarket strawberries and wild strawberries? Yep. Well, then you know what I mean… Nuff said. No? Then add it to your to-do list.
2. Freshness guaranteed. A lot of herbs, fruit and vegetables start losing their goodness after picking. Being able to pick from your balcony or garden and eat in minutes ensures the maximum nutritional benefits. Wonder how long that supermarket apple has been stored for? Well, these days your apple can have its first birthday off the tree before you even put it in your trolley…. Ewwww.
3. Organic goodness. Growing your own produce simply and cheaply without nasty composts, chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides is not difficult. There are even dead easy (mind the pun) organic bug control solutions….. like beer traps to kill snails and slugs… yes, beer! I make and give bottles or organic bug sprays to all my clients when I put in a veggie bed.
4. Children love it. Kids love learning and having their own plants to look after gives them ownership and responsibility too. At the same time they are learning about where food comes from, respect for the environment and how food grows. In fact, growing a veggie patch ticks off a whole bunch of NSW Department of Education curriculum items.
5. Exposure to veggies. How many of us struggle to get kids to eat anything green? Studies have shown that repeated exposure to foods increases children’s intake of that food. So, by growing your own veggies, children are exposed to a whole bunch of things you wouldn’t dream they would touch, and once they pick them, they may actually eat them! My kids will now eat kale, silverbeet, spinach and broccoli, which we grow in our little veggie patch as winter crops.
6. Important skills for school. We are seeing a huge surge in Nature Deficit Disorder and the need for occupational therapists treating kids these days. Why? Because kids aren’t climbing trees and picking apples like they used to. Growing your own produce gets kids to touch soil (shock horror!), dig holes, spread mulch, and basically use a bunch of fine and gross motor and sensory skills that are so lacking in today’s world.
People often complain that they can’t grow food because they don’t have a garden or rent their property. The answer to this is the easy and popular raised ‘no dig’ bed, which can be filled and planted on a balcony and moved as needed. We even have specially designed ranges for children! All you need is sun, soil and seeds/ seedlings.If that all sounds too hard, there are plenty of us around who can design and install your veggie patch (green wall, potted balcony, courtyard planter…) with all the trimmings from automatic irrigation to rainwater harvesting to worm farming. At The Creative Veggie Patch, we pride ourselves on offering a design solution to growing your own food for every budget and every child.
Happy harvesting, kids!