April is National Garden Month
Nutrition is just one of many reasons to have a garden. It allows you to eat locally, which means knowing where
your food comes from, and save money. There’s an even bigger harvest of benefits when you involve children in
the process. Planting, watching over and harvesting a garden provides daily opportunities for children to learn valuable
lessons and enjoy physical activity, while reaping the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. It also increases
the likelihood that picky eaters will try the fruits and vegetables since they helped grow and harvest them.
Not sure how to get started?
Join (or even start) a neighborhood garden.
With more than 1 million community gardens nationwide, chances are there’s one near you. By paying a small fee,
you can rent a plot of land where you can grow all the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers you like, strengthen
friendships with your neighbors, and take an active role in greening your community. Many community gardens
include a water source and till the soil for you. You can also share a plot with a small group of 2 or 3 – a friend, relative,
child, or senior.
If you don’t like the idea of gardening for yourself, try the local farmers market.
With a little planning, your trip to the farmers market can be a perfect way to introduce your family to new foods
while learning where our food comes from.
Plan ahead. Bring a list of what foods you need. Get your child excited about what new foods will be there, and
ask your child what new things they would like to try.
Try something new. Challenge yourself and your child to try at least one new food item. The farmers market
is the perfect setting for sampling unique foods.
Talk to the farmers. Take this opportunity to meet your local farmers and producers in a relaxed setting. Use
this time to have a conversation with the people responsible for growing or making your food.
Ask questions. Not sure how to incorporate that purple potato into a dish your family would like? Ask the individuals
selling the foods; they are a wealth of knowledge for various ideas of how to use their food as ingredients
in your recipes. Some even have recipes available for you to take home.
Make a farm-to-table meal. Now, use a medley of what you gathered at the farmers market to prepare your
meal. Involve your children in the kitchen, helping to prepare the various ingredients.