OGFM: Encouraging our Children into the Garden

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I apologize for being more MIA than usual lately. I have been keeping myself very busy. Add to that my *almost* 3 year olds new obsession with an online Buzz Lightyear game, and I’ve had trouble getting on the computer. So bear with me, I’ll try to make it out to visit all your blogs and ogle your harvests sometime this afternoon!

Anywhoo what’s been keeping me so busy? There’s the continued cleaning of my front garden to keep it picture worthy after it’s second place win in the PoCo Pride Garden Awards. The Coquitlam Now is coming by to take a couple of pictures tomorrow for the local paper! I’ve also been getting a lot of drive-by’s, which has kept me on my toes (akkk! a weed!)

Also keeping me busy, I was also recently approached by OGFM (Organic Gardening & Farming Magazine) a free on-line gardening magazine to become a contributing Author and write a monthly column for them! I was thrilled with the opportunity, and wrote my first piece for this months magazine!

Below is a copy of the article and the pictures that I submitted with it. You can also click on this link, to take you to the site. It is subscriber based, so you do have to sign up (again, It’s free!) but they will email you a copy of each months magazine, with my article in it!

Enjoy!

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Encouraging our Children into the Garden

The benefits of a getting your child involved in gardening.
Getting our children into the garden is a great way for them to understand more about nutrition and their well being. Gardening is a great stress reliever (yes, even kids get stressed!) and it helps kids learn about nature. With an added benefit of making nutrition more exciting! From seed to plate!

At our house we added in multiple raised beds last year. This year my eldest helped plant everything from Telephone Pole Peas to Burgundy Bush Beans. She popped pumpkin seeds into the ground, and regularly tends to the pot of Nasturtiums she has been growing. This adventure in edibles has lead to a keen interest in cherry tomatoes. My little girl who all but recently refused to eat a tomato, is now in love! It’s a whole lot easier to get the kids interested in eating their vegetables, when they help grow them. Their favorite treats of the garden seem to rarely make it to the plate. Strawberries and Peas, being popped into mouths like candy! It’s amazingly gratifying to hear them get so excited about their food!
Gardening teaches our children about nature and environmental awareness. This is the generation that can change the world! We just need to help them see that future! My little Nature Scientist (yes, that’s her preferred title) is a fantastic bug collector. I have learned to stomach my squeamishness about certain critters so as not to stifle her enthusiasm. She loves investigating things in the garden. Seeking out answers to her never ending pile of questions. Here in the garden she has a stream of infinite opportunities to witness the triumphs and tragedy of nature. Every child need to have this opportunity.

A monster in the Garden.
A concern I regularly hear from young families looking at starting their own garden, is that their children tear apart their plantings. No matter what is planted the destructive force of a toddler at play will surely destroy it. I’ve thought about this problem regularly. Here I am a young mother of three children under five, deep into my second year of growing vegetables smack in the middle of the backyard. Right in the heart of their play area, yet my crops have gone unscathed. I accomplished this seemingly impossible feat through determination, accommodation, and with a little creativity.

My adventures in the garden started after the birth of my first child. In a new house with an overgrown front yard, I found passion in pulling weeds. It was a fabulous release of the stresses that came with being a new mom. Getting outside daily, digging out overgrown beds, I sculpted out a perennial garden to be proud of. The neighbor’s and the bees loved the results. They weren’t the only ones being attracted to the flowers. The moment my pipsqueak started walking, she too wanted into the garden. Wanting to share my passion, I encouraged her visits. All while cringing as she stomped on new growth. I’d catch my breath as she’d wander into bulb areas.

I learned quickly what a force of nature she could be. My little monster! That destructive little girl loved the garden. How could I fault her for wanting to be a part of this? Yes, she killed a few plants, but what gardener hasn’t? She too was just learning. So like a perennial planted in the wrong light, things just needed to be moved and accommodated for this new gardener.

Designing your garden with your child in mind
In went more definable edging and clearly laid out paths. Instantly things got better. As long as she could still reach the plants from the path, she was happy. She just needed some boundaries. Not to be shut out entirely. The curiosity of a shut gate will surely drive any toddler to destruction! This change made a drastic difference, but it wasn’t enough. She still wanted to ‘help’. So here’s the crucial part. If you want you child to leave your prized tomatoes alone, you need to give them someplace to dig.

It’s as simple as that. Kids like dirt. As they should. It’s where all the good stuff comes from. Creating an area where they’re allowed and encouraged to dig and explore, will help keep them out of your pansies. Whether you like it or not, a kid is going to dig. This strategy is all about redirection.
Five years on there are now three little ones running around my gardens. The kid area has expanded. Next to the pumpkins the dig zone is now filled with trucks and shovels. As they get older the space will grow with them. Leaving the buried treasure behind for beds of flowers or if my eldest has her way, more strawberries! Choosing their own plants helps them create a relationship with their space, and a connection to the earth.

Relax, it’s just a plant
While you child is learning about their garden, make sure to celebrate the victories! Focus on their accomplishments and reward their good behavior in the garden. Don’t allow the fear of that size 5 sneaker to stop you from exposing them to a very natural education, right there in your own backyard.

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11 comments on “OGFM: Encouraging our Children into the Garden

  1. Dirty Girl Gardening on said:

    Great post! I love the pea picture…. they look very yummy!

  2. @Dirty Girl Gardening thanks! It was one of those perfect moments. Great colour, and of course the perfect peas!

  3. Lori E on said:

    How awesome is that gig. Good for you. I will take a look at the local papers online to see your garden. You would faint if you saw my garden. It is so pathetic now that I work full time. I don't know how you do it with 3 little kids. Mine are grown and I get nothing done.

  4. @Lori I'm working hard to keep it all from fading away. Luckily my husband supports my insanity!

  5. Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) on said:

    How exciting for you! Love the article. Congrats.

  6. meemsnyc on said:

    Congrats on the article! How exciting!

  7. Marguerite on said:

    Laura, what a great article! Some really great ideas there for people. Congratulations on the new gig.

  8. Melanie on said:

    How exciting Laura Congratulations!

  9. @Marilyn @meemsnyc @marguerite @melanie thanks! I worked hard on it!

  10. Jennifer on said:

    Congratulations on your first article! it is a great topic that i am sure will be of interest to lots of people.

  11. @Jennifer thanks! I sure hope it's of interest to others! Isn't that the big fear? That people are like 'meh'!

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