Get Kids Gardening
The Many Benefits to Kids Gardening
Not only is a great way to spend time with your kids but there are also many benefits to kids gardening.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need for good health. For kids, eating enough fruits and veggies is important to fuel and feed their growing bodies. But most kids aren’t eating nearly enough produce. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half (60 percent!) of kids failed to eat enough fruit each day and a whopping 93 percent didn’t meet the daily recommendation for veggies.
For kids, eating a balanced diet and staying active help fuel, feed and strengthen growing bodies. But today’s generation of kids aren’t eating nearly enough produce, and many aren’t getting enough exercise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half (60 percent!) of kids failed to eat enough fruit each day and a whopping 93 percent didn’t meet the daily recommendation for veggies. And while the CDC recommends an hour of physical activity each day, most kids opt to spend their hours with technology.
Kids Eating Healthy
Persuading kids to eat healthy and swap their devices for some outdoor activity remains a common parenting battle. Many families enroll kids in sports, dance or gymnastics to ensure ample activity. And, while some kids gravitate towards healthier food options, the food struggle wages on for parents of picky eaters. Some drown broccoli in cheese, or serve dip with carrots to persuade a bite of healthy veggie. Other parents are stealthier, hiding veggies in a puree mixed in casseroles or sauce.
The secret to persuading kids to eat their greens and to step away from the screen begins by planting a seed…literally. Encourage healthy eating habits and more outdoor activity with a family garden! You can have a lot of fun with the planning and planting. There are so many ideas out there from using vertical garden planters for vine growing veggies to planting fruits like strawberries or herbs like basil and even garlic. So many ideas you’re bound to find something you and the kids would love to plant and grow.
Studies have shown that kids gardening, growing their own fruits and vegetables are much more likely to eat those foods. Learning to plant and grow their own foods also teaches children to be more self-sufficient, and, in turn, boosts self-esteem. And gardening is a natural way to get kids outside and into nature.
For parents who don’t have a natural green thumb or access to a large green space, planting a garden might seem a bit intimidating. However, small gardens can be low-maintenance, and even families living in apartments can grow their own produce…or herbs, succulents (aloe plants are ideal healers for the home!) and flowers (sunflowers harvest yummy seeds!).
just takes a little time and patience. Of course, selecting the right plants for your environment also is important. Not every plant thrives in the same type of climate, so families need to do a bit of research to grow their perfect garden.
When beginning a family garden, involve children in planting seeds and selecting types of vegetables, fruits, herbs or flowers. Planting seeds allows children to fine tune fine motor skills through digging and handling seeds and plants. The planting experience also allows kids to observe a plant’s life cycle from the tiny beginnings.
Families planting a vegetable garden should incorporate tomato plants, which are fairly low-maintenance. Many types of tomatoes may be planted in large pots and kept on decks…just make sure they have enough sunlight! Green beans also may be planted in large containers and also thrive in sun-drenched spaces.
Herb gardens also produce health-enriching bounties. Try planting basil, rosemary, lavender or thyme. Lavender may be made into an essential oil. Fresh basil and rosemary taste wonderful in homemade sauces.
Regardless of what the family plants, children need active roles in the garden. Knowing their role in the life of the garden teaches responsibility and instills a sense of pride. To encourage kids gardening make it a family effort. Each role is vital in the success of the harvest and the life and health of the plants. Depending on age, children can water the plants, pull weeds or just assist parents and/or older siblings. Just ensure that every child has a role.
When kids are gardening they learn about the life cycle of plants and how plants help our environment. From the tiny seed to a small sprout and then a full-grown plant, children will witness the many changes and stages of the green cycle. Parents also should teach children how their plants benefit the lives of all creatures —through photosynthesis, plants generate life-sustaining oxygen.
For families with vegetable gardens, enlist kids to help pick the produce when the fruits or veggies ripen. Make harvest time fun by planning recipes or new ways to integrate your family’s bounty into meals. Chances are, though, kids won’t even need to be encouraged to eat their home-grown harvest…most will likely taste-test their produce straight from the plant!
Beginning a family produce garden is the ultimate DIY way to encourage kids to eat healthier and increase their daily physical activities. Gardening is fun for children and eating the foods that they grow expands their tastes for fruits and veggies while also setting the stage for healthy habits into adulthood.
About the Author
Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.