Gardening with kids starts now

Regardless of the time of year, it is always a good time to start gardening with kids. Engaging kids in gardening is beneficial to their nutrition and health.

Vegetable gardening with kids can provide so many benefits in the way of nutrition, physical activity, environmental stewardship, a sense of pride and accomplishment. Even if the outdoor gardening season is dormant, now is the time to plan and discuss the options available for next season’s garden.

To start the dialogue with a young child, read a book about what a vegetable is or where vegetables come from. A nice book to start with is “All Our Fruits and Vegetables” by Roberta Duyff and Patricia McKissack. Have conversations about what their favorite vegetable might be. Talk about the color, the feel and the taste of the vegetables. When you visit a grocery store, talk about the different vegetables that are found in the produce section. This type of dialogue can kick-start their vegetable experiences and preferences. For older children, have them look up the nutritional benefits, the origin or how to grow the vegetable. Ask your child what kind of vegetables they would like to grow and eat.

Together, start making plans about where you can grow the vegetables. It may be as simple as cutting an old soccer ball in half, finding an old boot or bucket or some type of container that will hold soil. Other options may include a community garden or a backyard garden or a raised bed. Engage in the gardening together when the time is right so you both reap the benefits.

During the next birthday or holiday celebration consider a garden themed party either at their school or at home. Party favors can include herbs, seed packets or small containers that were planted as a party activity.

Kids who have the opportunity to plan, plant, harvest, and eat the vegetables are more likely to take ownership of their vegetables and in turn eat their vegetables. Gardening with kids can also enhance their academics by incorporating writing about their experience, drawing the plans for their garden, using math to determine how many plants can be put into their space, measuring the space between their plants or seeds, reading books about vegetables and gardening or engaging in the physical activity used to plant and grow a garden. The benefits are endless for both you and your child. So why not get started gardening with a child today? You don’t have to wait for spring.