Teach Children How To Grow Their Very Own Vegetable Garden

The art of eating with your children and family and friends truly becomes a mealtime to cherish. Backyard garden fresh produce. Flowers in a pitcher. Cloth napkins just because. The sound of laughter along with silverware. Gratefulness of heart and a spirit of joy.

Quoted from "The Sacred Kitchen"

Buy "The Sacred Kitchen" and browse for more garden cookbooks 

Five Ways to Grow Your Kids Interest in Gardening

Here's what Rebecca Sawyer-Fay's has to say about:

Creating a Family Garden 

How do you convince a child that working outdoors is more about joy than drudgery? 

Remember that a young boy or girl whose family grows things will often develop an interest in growing plants as well.

1. Set aside a small area of your yard and designate it the "children's garden".

Even though as a parent you will be doing the bulk of weeding and watering, your child can still take pride in selecting which flowers and vegetables grow and how the plants will be positioned.

2. Plant a theme garden.

Alphabet gardens help children remember the common names of flowers. Other theme garden ideas could be a butterfly garden or a pizza wheel. An old wagon wheel embedded in the ground forms the pizza-shaped framework for slices of basil, oregano, parsley and other Italian herbs.

3. Grow a windowsill garden.

A perfect first garden is one no larger than a child's windowsill. Children who love all things miniture will appreciate the manageable size of a garden in a box.

4. Buy a tyke-size watering can.

These small tools are a great way to interest tots in garden chores. A toddler will run for his very own can whenever he sees Mom or Dad watering the tomatoes. And he will make sure his treasure is packed right beside the adult-size version in the garage at the end of the day. For a special touch, decorate their watering can with painted flowers and their name.

5. At bedtime, slect a story with a garden theme.

Visit your local library to find garden classics like The Tale of Peter Rabitor The Secret Garden (HarperClassics).

Check out your local child librarians recommendations for more children's garden books listed below. 

Kids Can Learn to Grow What They Eat

Think of vegetables as ALL IN THE FAMILY

So Dad, Mom, and kids -- Eat more of these!

DAD - tomatoes (the lycopene may help lower the risk of prostrate cancer)

MOM - orange juice, beans, and lentils (for folate good for your heart and critical when you are pregnant for a baby's spinal cord development.)

SCHOOL-AGE KIDS - calcium-rich foods like low-fat dairy; greens like collard, turnip and beet; and calcium fortified orange juice.

TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS - meat and beans (for iron); serving those foods high in vitamin C, like oranges, broccoli, can boost iron absorption 


Fresh Kidstuff Options for Veggie Haters

If your child won't eat his spinach - or any other vegetable - think out of the "vegetable box" and make up for missing nutrients with something he will eat. Some trade-offs might be:

1.Instead of carrots or sweet potatoes try cantaloupe for beta-carotene.

2.Instead of tomatoes try watermelon or pink or red grapefruit for lycopene.

3. Instead of beans, peas, and spinach, try fortified cereals, enriched rice, and oranges for folate.

4. Instead of dark, leafy greens like kale and broccoli try kiwi for vitamin K.

Plants For Kids

Edible Flowers -Nasturtium, viola, chive. 

Cooking Herbs -Basil, thyme, and sage can be cut for dinner. 

Big Seeds for Little Hands -Corn, beans, sunflower. 

Fast Producers -Radish, beets, lettuces. 

Instant Gratifiers -Cucumber, edible-podded peas and beans. 

How do I grow a kid's theme garden? 

The Fresh Foods Movement

FOR THE FIRST TIME, everyone - nutritionist, diet book authors, even government agencies -- agree that whole foods are the best foods.

Welcome to America's hot new dining trend: nourishing, satisfying, delicious whole foods that are unprocessed and as close to their natural state as possible.

The plug for whole foods grew even stronger when a slew of studies showed that they are loaded with antioxidants and other healthy compounds that help protect against adult illnesses ranging from heart disease or cancer.

Whole foods nourish by providing a rainbow of vitamins and minerals and at the same time help to control our energy level and prevent obesity issues in our kids.

Instead of eating the same old fruits and vegetables everyday, expand your taste and your plate!

Think red(cranberries), yellow (papayas), orange (peppers) and blue-purple (blueberries) are loaded with antioxidants. Leafy greens (such as kale and chard) and yellow-orange foods (butternut squash and carrots) contain vitamin A and calium and are rich in carotenoids and other phytochemicals that boost the immune system.

At the supermarket, stick to the perimeter of the store. This is where you will find most whole foods: produce, dried fruit and nuts, fresh fish and meats, dairy, and freshly baked whole grain bread.

The inner aisles are loaded with processed foods. Enter the aisles only for such staples as heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil and oats and other whole grains; if you can skip the snack aisle altogether.

To learn more tips to help children become smart consumers, a companion book to Meals Without Squeals: Child Care Feeding Guide & Cookbookhas been written called Teaching Children about Food: A Teaching and Activites Guide (Family & Childcare) which teaches parents about cooking and gardening activities for children, along with ways to teach appreciation for cultural diversity regarding food choices and preparations.

Learn how to teach your children an understanding of the relationship between food and our environment.

Fresh Thinking: Simple ways to Shop Smarter

For Local Foods

Navigating the Farmer's Market for the Most Successful Shopping

*Go early - be among the first shoppers to arrive in the morning. 

*Plan your route - start by walking around the market at least twice: the first time to scout the produce, taste samples and decide what you want to cook; the 2nd to do your actual shopping. Wait to buy heavy items such as melons and potatoes, and perishables like dairy, fish, and meat until just before you leave. 

*Taste everything - if there aren't any samples set out, ask for one. It never obligates you to buy. Don't be turned off by odd shapes and colors. The ugliest heirloom fruits and vegetables are often the most delicious. 

*Bring easy cash - for speedy transactions, carry small bills and change -- and keep them in a pocket. 

*Double Bag it - bring a large shoulder bag for sturdy vegetables and firm fruits. Use a separate bag you can carry by the handle for fragile berries, ripe fruits and delicate greens. Keep a cooler in your car if you have a long trip home or errands to run. 

*Be a good customer - wait your turn, refrain from squeezing the produce, and don't ask for a price break. Let a farmer know that you liked something he sold you the week before. It reminds him that youre a regular and will sow the seeds of a new relationship with the farmer and your food! 

More ways you can connect with the local food system....

-Discover all the local food resources in your community which might include CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), local orchards, food buying co-ops, sustainable ranching operations and artisan food companies. 

-Be consistent in purchasing local food beyond the grocery store, remember how this simple act of eating contributes to a more sustainable food system. 

-Consider joining a local CSA if you are not able to grow a small garden in your backyard, take your kids when you pick up the food so they can learn about seasonal produce and local products 

-Encourage local grocery stores and area resturants to purchase more of their products from local farmers. 

-Encourage your favorite restaurant to feature foods from the region 

-Support community gardens and farmers markets through garden/farm tours 

What is a CSA and how do you find one in your area?

CSA's promote families purchasing food products from a local farmer. The basic concept is the consumer pays in advance or in payments throughout the year for a share in the farm's crop.

In return, the consumer receives regular deliveries of produce from the farm during the growing season.

A side benefit of a CSA is that it promotes the preservation of farmland. Today, there are more than 1,000 CSA farms in the United States and most are often run by farmers who are relatively young. According to statistics from the USDA, the average CSA farmer is more than 10 years younger than the average traditional farmer.


The Eat Well Guide 

Local Harvest 

Try Your First Garden Tomato Fresh Recipe:


Serves: 4 to 6

12 ounces spaghetti

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

5 cups diced fresh tomatoes (3-4 medium tomatoes)

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook just until they begin to soften about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Turn off heat.

Immediately add the cooked pasta and cheese, and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Vine-Ripe Disease Fighters

Phytochemicals are a group of compounds responsible for promoting good health and preventing chronic disease. These anticancer agents are plant chemicals, produced by plants to protect themselves from fungi, bacteria and other diseases.

Picture in your mind the summer months of late July and August -- the time for garden-grown, juicy, robust tomatoes to land on a sandwich or in a summer salad.

Just one medium tomato provides 40% of the daily need for vitamin C, 20% of the daily need for vitamin A, and as much fiber as a slice of whole wheat bread!

Luscious Lycopene is a super hot phytochemical found in tomatoes, red grapefruit and watermelon.

Lycopene has been stdied and found to be an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of prostrate cancer and heart disease. More research has shown the possibility of lycopene even protecting against colon, breast and lung cancers.

According the the Florida Tomato Committee, studies report that the best way to get the most mileage out of lycopene is to eat cooked tomatoes with a small amount of oil or fat used in the meal.

Quick Recipe:


Serves: 4

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 pound firm tomatoes cored and cut into eighths

Minced fresh chives

Freshly grated Romano cheese 

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, basil and tomatoes, and saute over medium heat until just wilted, about 2 1/2 minutes. Add chives and cheese and serve hot as a side dish.

Source: The Healing Foods: The Ultimate Authority on the Curative Power of Nutrition