Get your hands dirty this spring and encourage your kids to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Getting kids to eat their greens has always been a bit of a challenge. The mealtime mantra of ‘But it’s good for you!’ rings hollow when they don’t really understand what that means. So how do you get your children appreciating healthy food? Well, according to Michael Kelly, founder of non-profit organisation Grow It Yourself, one key is to get them outside and growing their own.
Sow & Grow
As part of a nationwide initiative to encourage school children to learn about the benefits of healthy eating, innocent drinks and Grow it Yourself have teamed up for this year’s ‘Sow & Grow campaign’. Schools across the country will be encouraging children to test out their green fingers. The logic behind it is simple: by directly involving them in the growing process, children learn where their food comes from and become more passionate about healthy food.
A healthy start
Any activity that gets children off the sofa, away from a screen, and out in the fresh air is a step in the right direction. Not only will gardening get them back outdoors and doing some exercise, but by getting your children involved in growing food, you’re helping them to develop a better understanding of where food comes from, how it’s grown and how long the process takes.
This ‘food empathy’ will also help them to better appreciate the food put on their plates. Numerous studies have shown that food-growing children are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables, have a greater understanding of nutrition, and tend to carry on with these healthy eating habits later in life. For parents who want to pick up a packet of seeds and give this a go at home, Grow It Yourself’s Michael Kelly has shared the following tips for gardening with youngsters:
Keep them enthusiastic and engaged.
Let them have a say in what they want to grow and give them a section/bed/box to themselves where they can sow their own seeds and experiment. It might be tempting to take over, or want to teach them by showing, but they will enjoy it more if they are calling the shots.
Get them sowing seeds, digging and watering.
Anything active that lets them get their hands dirty will be fun. It will be a good way for them to try out techniques, and see what works and what doesn’t.
Encourage them to select fast growing fruit and vegetables.
There are many plants such as runner beans, carrots and cress, which offer quick results that will encourage and motivate your little gardeners. Get them to measure and record how much their crops grow, so they can monitor their achievements.
Let them sample their produce as it grows.
Taking a bite of their own home-grown peas, strawberries and carrots will make their hard work feel more worthwhile, and is part of the fun. They’ll quickly develop a discerning palette for fresh, organic produce.