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For more information, contact the author–Cindy Brison, MS, RD (firstname.lastname@example.org), Extension Educator.
As a Registered Dietitian and mother of three growing children, I am concerned about the food I provide for my family. It is not always easy preparing healthy meals that your entire family will eat without complaining. If you have picky eaters, it makes that job even more difficult. One tool to get your children to consume more fruits and vegetables is growing a garden.
There have been many studies that show children who help garden are more likely to consume what they planted. This equates to more fruits and vegetables! They are also more likely to help choose more fresh produce at the grocery store. This makes it a little easier to prepare meals if you can find a couple of vegetables to offer that they will eat. So increased nutritional status is a plus.
Another positive that comes from gardening with your children is exercise. Teaching them to work the soil, and plant, weed and water are all great things. They also require movement, and utilizing muscles you may not use all the time. Bending, squatting, hoeing—these all use large muscle groups and are great for anyone! Hauling soil, harvesting tomatoes and picking beans—these are also life skills that will stay with your children the rest of their lives. Teaching them where their food comes from and the work that is put into growing it is important. They will appreciate their food a little more. At the least, they won’t answer “the grocery store” when asked where their food comes from!
Finally—spending time with your children outside in the sun (think Vitamin D!) away from video games and the television is fun. You are building memories. You are working together to provide food for your family, while playing with dirt and annoying caterpillars. Can it be any better than that?
If you don’t have a big spot for a small garden—plant a tomato plant in a pot. You will get the same outcomes!
Need more info? There are many helpful gardening resources:
- This site has lots of great ideas and activities for gardening with children: http://kidsgardening.org.
- Your local Extension office also has many resources for beginning and experienced gardeners!
This article has been peer-reviewed.