Getting children passionate about working with their hands in the soil is an easy way to promote good health, curiosity, and creativity. Teaching children to “play with their food” will set them on a path of lifelong health and nutrition. Understanding that a strawberry does not come from a plastic container, but rather a vine is a powerful teaching tool that can only happen in nature. All too often children are wrapped up in their iGadgets and video games. Gardening affords children an opportunity to learn, play, and discover while having FUN!
Additionally, mainstream education systems are starting to see the benefits of gardening for children. New York City is on a mission. They want to put a sustainable school garden in every public school across New York City. That is more than 1,600 separate gardens! Why is this project so important to NYC? Research shows what is readily seen by the naked eye, kids are more disconnected from the natural world and nowhere is this more evident than in urban areas. Research is starting to show that a stronger connection to nature is essential for a child’s intellectual and emotional growth and well being. In fact, school grounds that have natural areas foster increased knowledge, creativity and academic achievement while decreasing hostility and even bullying.
Often times the sheer act of getting started can be the most difficult task. We have some tips and tricks for starting a family gardening project that should yield hours of family fun, and delicious results!
Take on a manageable project – There is no need to start with a 60x60 garden plot, find a size and space that works within your existing area. If you don’t have any green space google community gardens in your area. When looking for a community plot make sure they provide water. Nothing is worse than having to lug 50 gallons of water with you every time you make a trip.
Pick fun and exciting things to grow – Picking plants that kids can be excited about will help keep them engaged. Things like aloe vera and snapdragons are fun to touch. Basil, strawberries, peas, and cherry tomatoes are delicious and will excite their tastes buds. Jasmine and mint will be fragrant and stimulate their sense of smell. Bright flowers like marigolds and pansies will be fun to look at, and keep away unwanted varmint.
Pick age appropriate activities – Vigorously working in a garden for 1 hour is the physical equivalent of walking 5 miles! No child can keep up that level of engagement. We suggest picking one or two activities for your child to participate in each time you visit such as watering, weeding, picking flowers, planting, harvesting etc.
As you can see, there is no shortage of fun and exciting opportunities to learn from Mother Nature. It is that passion for discovery that drives us here at Rimol every day. We hope that this coming spring you have the chance to roll up your sleeves, and get dirty. You will be glad you did!