Guest Blog: Connie Evers On Growing Kids and Veggies
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By Connie Evers MS, RD, LD – Nutrition for Kids

Connie’s Healthy Eating Blog – Growing Kids and Veggies!

It’s no secret that I love edible gardening. Growing up on a farm, I was exposed to gardens and fields when I was literally just a sprout. I’m convinced that’s the reason I find it so easy to make “half my plate” (or more) fruits and veggies. As long as you don’t ask me to eat canned peas, I will try just about any fruit or veggie-based dish.

So my goal when I had children was to share this passion and hopefully entice them to enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Starting at age three or four, I allowed the kids to have their own mini-garden patches in the yard. They learned to prepare the soil, chose what to grow, and helped with weeding, watering and of course, harvesting. I’m pretty sure they ate quite a bit of dirt as well – I would often look out and see them munching blueberries, pea pods, green beans or even tomatoes right off the plants.

Research supports the value of gardening with kids, both from a health standpoint and also as an educational tool. Math, science, language arts, nutrition, and just about any subject can be explored through the lens of a school garden. As a result, schools across the country are increasingly incorporating school gardens into the curriculum. The photo above is from the Raleigh Park School Garden in Beaverton, Oregon.

Tips for Getting Started

– Your local or regional Cooperative Extension office is a great free source for gardening information specific to where you live. Master gardeners have been trained and can answer just about any of your questions.

– Even the smallest yard or apartment balcony affords the aspiring young gardener a place to cultivate fresh vegetables. A small raised plot (2 feet by 4 feet) is easier to manage, especially for a child under the age of five. Container gardening is also a great option when space is limited.

– Garden soil should be dark brown and feel loose in your hands. It is best to start with containers or garden beds that you can fill with organic, compost-rich soil.

– Provide tools that children can easily handle. A shovel, spade, hoe, watering can and wagon are essentials for the young gardener.

– Choose some vegetables that germinate quickly and have short growing seasons such as radishes, leaf lettuce and pea pods. Kids won’t have to wait all summer to enjoy the harvest if you combine short-season vegetables along with later maturing produce such as tomatoes, peppers, squash and corn.

– To make planting easier, mark a wooden craft stick at the quarter-inch, half-inch and inch marks. Following the recommendation on the seed packet, poke the stick in the ground to the appropriate planting depth, and have your child place a seed in the hole. For very tiny seeds, try using seed tape or a dispenser designed for planting small seeds. You can also label craft sticks and use as markers for the different seeds you plant.

– When deciding what to plant, be sure to include some old favorites along with some new-to-try fruits and vegetables.

– Consider planting a theme garden. I’ve included a downloadable worksheet with ideas for getting started:

Theme Garden Worksheet (To download this file, right click the link, and save the document to your computer!)

To learn more about Connie, check out the links below:

Web:
Nutritionforkids.com

Social Media:
twitter.com/nutritionkids
Facebook.com/nutritionforkids

Sources:

Nagro, Anne. School & Youth Garden Research.” GardenABCs. Accessed by Web. 24 Jul 2011. http://www.gardenabcs.com/Research.html.

Evers, Connie Liakos. Nutrition Fun With Brocc & Roll: A Hands-on Activity Guide Filled With Delicious Learning!. 2007.

For more about the Raleigh Park School Garden, visit their web page.

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Truth on Health

9 Responses to “Guest Blog: Connie Evers On Growing Kids and Veggies”

  1. Marianne says:

    Great ideas! When children get involved with the garden they are inclined to want to cook and eat what they have grown. Best way to begin health habits. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the informative blog Mr.Connie.Even i love gardening while i get free time.

  3. Aaron Fischer says:

    Parents are always trying to get their kids to eat healthier. We had got my daughter a gardening shovel and a bucket and some other tools for Easter. She saw my wife working on her garden and wanted to do it herself. It is a great way for families to spend time together.

    Thanx for the worksheet! We will put it to good use. Go Paul Pierce!

  4. I grew up gardening with my grand parents. However, I never quite developed the taste for a wide variety of veggies. What I did develop was a immense love for being outdoors. I must have passed the trait of being a pickie eater on to my children, because they are very much like I was. But we all love to garden. We grow the veggies we like, fruit and flowers.

  5. Lychee says:

    Niceeeeee! Children like to help, especially if they their own plants. And this is also the best way to teach those kids about healthy food, garden and so on. Great post!

  6. Lilly Dunn's Gardening For Kids says:

    People hardly have time for nature due to the hectic life styles today. There is no time or inclination for the environmental problems caused due to abuse of nature by humans.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is a great post for those home schoolers to discover!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Excellent blog right here!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoyed that article. You should write more!

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