10 Reasons to Start an Edible Garden With Your Kids
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I’ve enjoyed having a backyard garden for at least 10 years, and have loved including my kids in this hobby with me since they were little. There are LOTS of wonderful reasons to start a garden with your kids!
One of the great things about gardening is it does not have to be a huge, giant project that takes up half of your backyard (been there, done that, but don’t’ currently have time for it). It can really be as large or small as you choose. If all you have space and time for is a single pot, go for it! If you have a huge backyard space and want to make 5 raised beds, go you! Whether your garden is big or small, you and your kids will still reap the benefits of growing your own food or herbs, and maybe you’ll both be bit by the gardening bug (sorry, I couldn’t help myself ).
10 Reasons to Grow Food with your kids
1. It’s valuable bonding time with your kiddos.
You are working on a project together and nurturing it over time. With work, school, extracurricular activities and life in general, it can be challenging to find quality time with your kids. We as parents know how much it means to them to do something together, and I have found they really don’t care what it is as long as it’s clear you are also enjoying it! I have enjoyed working in the garden for many years, and I always get excited to share it with my kids. My enthusiasm spreads to them, and it’s more fun for all of us. I love sharing it with them, and I can tell they like it also because ‘what’s happening in the garden’ is a frequent topic of conversation in our house.
2. They (and you!) are outside, getting fresh air, sunshine and digging in the dirt.
Isn’t everyone just happier outside? (I know I am!). There are a plethora of studies showing that being outside is good for your health. Your vitamin D levels increase, concentration improves, you feel happier, you are getting exercise, and the list of benefits goes on and on.
3. Your kids are more likely to EAT veggies if they have helped to grow them.
At the very least, they are more likely to TRY them (I mean, who doesn’t like picking a fresh tomato straight off the plant and popping it in their mouth?), and that’s a win in my book. I think this might be true for adults also. The first year I had a veggie garden, I grew tomatoes and peppers, but at that time I really didn’t love tomatoes. Once I tasted my first cherry tomato right off the plant from my own backyard, I suddenly really liked tomatoes.
4. Kids love playing in dirt.
I asked my 6 year old what she likes best about planting the garden and the first thing she said was digging holes. And she’s not even the super messy, get your hands dirty, kid. Bonus: they love it even more if you are out there digging right along with them!
5. It’s something they enjoy even after the planting is complete.
My kids especially love checking on the plants, watering them, and of course the harvest!
6. It’s a great learning opportunity to show kids where food really comes from.
I think this is such a valuable lesson for our children! We as a society have a large disconnect with our food supply. We shop at large grocery stores, where everything is stacked neatly in rows and packaged in plastic. We generally know nothing about where the food was grown, raised, processed, made or manufactured. I think this makes it much more difficult to teach our children about making healthy choices.
In a normal supermarket, the produce and fresh food section is a small section of the store, while the rest is processed, packaged and frozen foods. It must be very confusing for our kids to see aisles and aisles of packaged food and a much smaller section of fresh produce and ‘real food.’ I try really hard to teach my children about the importance of choosing healthy foods to fuel their bodies, and you cannot go wrong with anything you can grow! Seriously, if you can grow it, it’s a healthy choice for your body. Your kids will get it when they have watched the food grow with their own eyes!
7. You can introduce them to new foods they might have shunned before.
Grab a couple of packs of spinach seeds, or maybe some beet transplants and find a little corner in your garden for them. When they watch these new foods grow with their very own eyes (and get to dig them up or pick them), chances are they will be more open to trying them. I also love to grow herbs and my kids have enjoyed trying (and smelling) those as well. Last summer we grew a mint plant and they loved picking the leaves to add to their water.
8. You’ll all be enjoying food that’s more flavorful and nutritious.
It’s no secret fresh food tastes better. And what could be fresher than picked from your own yard? When you grow your own food, you also have the benefit of knowing exactly what is in it, and what is not. I am willing to bet good money you are not going to want to spray pesticides on your vegetable plants when you know your kids will be picking them off the plants and eating them! So you’ll (hopefully) be growing organic food, when you might not purchase organic in the store. That’s a pretty big win in my book!
9. It’s like a mini science lesson for your kids!
It’s an opportunity to teach them about the life-cycle of a plant, as well as how the outdoor ecosystem works together. We end up talking about all kinds of bugs (which are beneficial and which are harmful for our plants), birds (who love to eat our tomatoes), rabbits (because we have lots in our neighborhood who also enjoy our garden), and the list goes on. Kids are little sponges who just want to know everything, and starting a garden will open the door for all kinds of new conversations you might not have had otherwise! Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers to their questions – it can be fun to learn with them. That’s what Google is for 😉
10. Kids love to be in charge – and they can lead the way in your garden.
Depending on the age of your kids, you can really give them ownership of the garden if they want it! I let my kids pick out exactly what they want to plant, and since they are younger, I help with the preparation and spacing. But they are in charge of watering and checking on their plants (although I do remind them often ;). Older kids who really enjoy it could be in charge of everything from planning the layout of the garden and determining what to plant, feeding, watering and watching for pests.
There are really so many wonderful benefits to gardening with your children, and you do NOT need to have a green thumb to get started! There are tons of plants that are easy to care for and can thrive in small spaces. Whatever your living situation is, there is a gardening option for you!
Ready to get started on your own backyard garden? I’ve got you covered with this post: how to start a veggie garden in 5 easy steps.