Every spring I say the same thing, with much sighing and sad resignation: I wish we had a garden. I love the idea of walking out into my backyard to pick some vegetables for dinner. I love the idea of saving money on produce and eating healthier, homegrown foods. Gardens are beautiful. What's not to love? Oh yeah, all the hard work that goes into it. The planning, the weeding, the protecting from children and animals. There is that...
Even with all that goes into having one, I've always wanted to have a vegetable garden at our home because you do get so much out of it. But alas, we've been unable to do so for one reason or another...one reason being that I have a horrific black thumb and can't manage to keep anything green alive. <strong>I want my kids to experience gardening</strong>, to understand where food comes from and to appreciate fresh vegetables. It's absolutely possible to do so, and I'm going to share how we've done it and I'd love for you to share your ideas in the comments!
Even if you can't (or won't!) have a full-fledged garden at your home, your kids can get a taste of gardening in these ways:
1. Read books about gardening! Kids will love to see gardening come to life on the pages of books, sometimes even with their favorite characters. Several months ago, we received this book as the month's selection from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Strega Nona's Harvest by Tomie dePaola. In the book, children get a glimpse into the work involved in tending a vegetable garden. Strega Nona, the main character, shares her extra harvest with the townspeople, an idea we have embraced in our community (see #2 for more). Do you have any favorite books about gardening?
2. Create or contribute to a community or food pantry garden. This spring, our church began a new food pantry garden ministry. Our church members did the work to create the garden space on our church's property. We gathered all the supplies (many plants and seeds were donated), did lots of work picking out rocks from the dirt, planted seeds, weeded, and picked vegetables all summer. Every last vegetable we harvested went to our local food pantry. We hope to continue our garden ministry for years to come and it has been wonderful to see several generations working together for this cause, even those of us who don't know the first thing about gardening! Even our kids regularly worked in the garden! Find a community garden near you at the American Communtity Gardening Association's website.
3. Join a Community Supported Agriculture co-op. This isn't something we've done YET but I've researched the CSAs in our area and there are many good ones to choose from. In a CSA, your family will purchase a part of the harvest from the farm of your choosing. Every CSA is different and you might be required to do some work (like packing boxes or helping with distributing) in order to maintain your membership, but you'll also receive a large amount of fresh local vegetables and support local farmers. Click here to find a local CSA!
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