Gardens are not just good for food! Gardens are a great place for families and children and offer many benefits including peace of mind, health, science and math lessons. Vegetables are never better than when you grow them yourself; a sun-warm tomato will always beat out the one found in the grocery store. Studies have shown that kids who grow up with vegetable gardens are more likely to show interest in trying and eating different vegetables. When kids are involved in the growing process they are more likely to want to try the vegetables they are growing. Studies have also shown that kids that play in the dirt are less likely to get sick, because the friendly exposure to different germs boosts their immune system for later in life.
Gardening is also incredibly educational and aids in developing fine motor skills if you involve kids in planting seeds, weeding, harvesting and watering. There are all kinds of lessons to teach kids from the garden from math (counting vegetables, figuring out how long things will take to grow) to communication by having kids describe textures, colors and shapes of plants. Gardening is obviously great for science lessons too– you can experiment with what kind of sunlight works best for plants, how much water, what kind of soil and much more.
From an educational stance perhaps the most important part of gardening is that it gets kids thinking about how greater systems work. For example if you haven’t grown your own food it’s easy to think of tomatoes as a food that simply appears at the supermarket. If you grow a tomato you can appreciate everything that goes into getting tomatoes to the store. Comprehending the multiple variables that go into getting something simple like a tomato to the store can help ease kids into understanding more complex systems like government, and also give kids an appreciation for the people who grow the food that ends up at the dinner table.
Finally, I firmly believe that people can garden anywhere – everyone has room for a potted plant whether it’s on top of a piece of furniture, on a deck, or outside.
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