Growing your own food can be one of the most rewarding and simple ways to teach your children all about, food, nature, and healthy eating.
For a long while now we have wanted to grow our own food, and last year we finally jumped in and built a small raised bed in the back garden. As soon as it appeared, even when there was nothing growing there, our little one was fascinated by it. Climbing, digging, playing and poking at it. Soon it was time to plant our seeds, and before long the green shoots began to show. We started with strawberries, carrots and rocket, and soon had added rhubarb and even began growing potatoes in a stack of tires (collected from beach cleans) filled with compost. This small plot, combined with the large apple tree in our garden, meant that for the first time we could watch our food being grown from seed to harvest.
It is a great way to teach your children about food, getting them involved in its success, weeding, watering and harvesting. When summer rolled around we could start to reap the rewards, enjoying the strawberries, and tasting the rocket and rhubarb. And now that it is Autumn, the apples, carrots and potatoes have all been gratefully received.
Involving children of all ages in growing things, be it plants, flowers or food is a great way to let them engage with nature. Talk about soil and bugs, seeds and roots. Talk about weather and pollination, look for caterpillars, bees and beetles. Get them outside and learning through action and allowing them to be part of something.
For our toddler it was all about digging and planting, the seeds, insects and getting to dig up his own potatoes and carrots, (2 of his favourites) not to mention his raid on the strawberry patch. But you can structure it for all ages, and let them be as involved as is necessary.
Not only is it a god chance to teach them about food, but it can transfer into the kitchen too, as they learn to prepare the food and cook. Washing the veg and potatoes is Roran's thing right now and it is a great way to get them eating healthy too.
You don't have to start big, if you have a garden section of a small area and plant carrots, or a few strawberry plants, you don't even have to grow them from seeds if you don't want to. Or if you lack outdoor space, try window boxes, or using cut in half cartons to grow some herbs. It's all fun and games with plenty of opportunities of education thrown in too.