Monday, 8 August 2011

Sowing Seeds for the Future

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

Incorporating children into garden and farm plans is a investment in our future.

Not everyone farms, I know, but many people garden and sometimes I see gardens that are only planted with delayed gratification plants, like tomatoes, corn and potatoes. All good, but to a child whose attention span and grasp of time is different than ours, waiting for a tomato to ripen can take forever.

If I had a wish it would be that gardeners with small children would do more succession sowing so that kids get the idea that the garden can actually feed you. Eating daily from the garden, even just one thing, plants the idea that you don't go to the store all the time for your food. It may take some time to find out the combination of what to plant for kids that they will eat on a regular basis, (my teenager eats greens) it may be salad, peas, cherry tomatoes, or mild salad turnips.

If I had another wish it would be that you let your children help you in all aspects of gardening, not just eating, but soil prep, planting and weeding, and finally harvesting. Allowing your children to help will give them more of a stake in the garden. Gardening is a huge opportunity for learning about plants, and insects, and the 3 R's too. Reading seed packets, writing labels, and calculating how much to plant take the boredom out of "school" type activities. Little hands become deft when handling the big job of planting tiny seeds. Sure, they will make mistakes, planting, weeding and harvesting, but it won't be the end of the world.

We have to be careful about what message we send to our children about work and self-worth. Do you go to the health club to work out, or do you stay home and weed your garden and exercise all your body alongside your child? Do you pay someone else to do your "dirty" jobs while you take vacations? As long as we keep our children isolated from the real work of gardening and farming we limit their chances of being successful gardeners or farmers if they choose to follow those pursuits.

Farming and gardening may not be in your child's future but the skills and life lessons they pick up along the way will stand them in good stead in any profession.


amygrennell said...

Yes this is a good idea. I always have the kids help with soil prep and seeds but then after that there's sometimes a lull and then they harvest a little bit and then eat. I would like to have them help with the compost application and then the harvesting more and even what we are doing with the harvest when they are older. I need more help with the weeds too and if i get them gloves they are willing to help. ;)

Jeff and Meg said...

Good post! My kids are young yet, but they already love to help in the garden. I am not always good at consistently getting them out there, but they follow me. Yesterday my son was harvesting tomatillos and my girl (3yrs) goes and 'grazes,' eating kale, basil and tomatoes straight from the garden. :)

Zonnah said...

I agree with everything you said!

Carol said...

Hear! Hear! My grandchildren have always been my garden elves. They were a great magnet to my farmers' market booth with their sales pitches and descriptions of produce and growing procedures. Now they are in college and pursuing computer technology and microbiology. Maybe they will become gardeners again before they have children.

Sheila said...

My daughter had the hoe and was dutifully getting rid of those pesky little weeds, when I turned around and a partial row of carrot seedlings was missing. I think my NOOOOO! scared her, but I wasn't mad...I was just fearful of losing more. Besides, they were the carrots my son planted; he wouldn't be happy. I found what I could and replanted them, and some are still around. It was a little disheartening...this is our first year with a "real" garden and that I actually got something to grow from seed was exciting, but we planted some more seeds and they are doing just fine.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Well stated! I totally agree!


Donna OShaughnessy said...

We worked side by side with our four children and only one (now adults) is intersted in our farm. Sadly he is only intersted in working for us part time while he works for a confinement farm. Stab us in the heart

BUT we have 3 grandchildren ages 9, 6 and 3 and maybe THEY will be our future.

Dmarie said...

hear, hear!!

Amy said...

We sow the seed of green-thumbs in our children. They decide what to do with it. But at least by sowing the seed, we give them the opportunity to choose, the skills to take up, the knowledge and experience.
I did want to laugh when reading about things not necessarily going 'to plan' when gardening with kids. My son is only 15months old, but already is insistent on lifting the wormfarm lid to see what is happening. He helped empty one of the trays. He sat in the middle of the garden and pulled leaves off lettuces while I pulled weeds (the lettuces were old, so I didn't mind). I suspect we might be in for an interesting growing season come summer! Grin. Amy