Learn about the best ways to engage kids in gardening.
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One of the best gifts you can give a child, is to garden with them. Like myself, most adult gardeners started in the garden with mom, dad or a favorite grand parent. Introducing kids to gardening at a young age leads to a lifetime of healthy eating and loving plants and the environment. Yes, I believe gardeners make better people, too, as they learn life skills such as nurturing and working together.
We’re blessed in Vermont with many gardening organizations fostering kids gardens in schools, day cares and summer programs. Organizations such as the Vermont Community Garden Network, kidsgardening.org, and Vermont FEED spearhead these group gardening activities. But gardening should also happen at home. Here’s a few tips.
Start by showing how much you love gardening and grow gardens around your home. Even if you aren’t a great gardener, your child will pick up on your enthusiasm. Let your child have a garden, or part of one, to call their own. Engage them in garden planning by asking what veggies and flowers they like. Obviously, you’ll have to do some editing (sorry peanuts don’t grow in Vermont), but go shopping together for their favorites. Relax your standards. Crooked rows and toys, fairies, and action figures in the garden are okay. Leave space for just digging and playing. Sometimes your kid will spend more time making signs and decorating the garden than tending the plants. That’s fine because they’re in the garden. That being said, make sure they have some success. You may have to do some weeding, watering and saving of plants on the side, especially with young kids, in order to get a harvest. Yes, the harvest is most important. Make it special. Have a party in the garden serving their beans or cherry tomatoes and decorating the table with their flowers.