Encouraging Healthy Habits Through Gardening

by Jennie on June 28, 2011

Kim and I both love gardening and we talked in the past about our garden adventures! Since the move, I haven’t started a garden here, but plan to next spring. Kim has been hard at work growing and nurturing hers! We have a guest post from one of our readers about how to encourage healthy eating with the kiddos through gardening! Read ahead for some wonderful tips :)

Gardening is not a pastime that has to be reserved for adults.  If you’d like to foster a green thumb in your children, there is no better way to do that than to involve them in caring for your garden.  Gardening can be a positively life-altering experience for young ones, but getting them enthusiastic about the idea might initially take a little coaxing.  After all, gardening probably sounds like a chore to those who’ve never experienced the joy of cultivating crops.  There are a number of ways you can spark your child’s interest in gardening and, if you go about the it right way, instill in them an appreciation for mother nature that can last a lifetime.

Let the little ones choose their own crops. Take them with you to the gardening center and let them pick their own seed packets.  This is a chance to be creative and encourage their imaginations, so be sure to include fruits, vegetables, berries, trees, flowers, vines and herbs when pointing out the available options.

Allow each child to take ownership of their own portion of garden. You’ll be amazed at what a little responsibility can do for a youngster who is dragging those heels when it comes to heading out to the garden.  Let the children put their names on little signs that they can post in their crop sections.

Turn your garden into a classroom. Gardens are ripe with learning opportunities.  Bring a bug net, some glass jars, and a magnifying glass with you when you garden and, whenever the kids find an interesting insect, take some time out to study it.  Use graph paper to plan the garden before heading outside, then involve the children in measuring and marking the garden area and then dividing into sections for crops.  Follow up a day in the garden with an educational story-time involving a book on plants, bugs, the earth, habitats or, of course, gardening!

Make a game out of preparing the garden. Challenge the children to a weed-pulling contest.  Wear swimsuits and use beach toys that are used for playing in the sand to rake the soil and dig the seed holes.

Cook a meal out of the garden’s harvest. Perhaps the biggest reward that comes with gardening is the chance to enjoy the product of all your hard work.  When your crops are ripe and ready, have a family dinner party, incorporating the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs into a meal that everyone can participate in making and eating.

Gardening is not only an educational and practical way of cultivating healthy eating habits and an appreciation for nature.  It goes much deeper than that, in that it is also promotes family bonding and personal growth.  When you involve children in nurturing a garden, you plant a seed of self-esteem in them that will continue to grow for life.

About the Author: Jennifer Blanche is a full-time ultrasound technician and mother of three. She enjoys gardening in her spare time and has a thriving vegetable garden she shares with her young ones (or, really, that they now share with her)!


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