These aren't in any particular order, largely because I can't figure out how I should rank them. They're all pretty darn important. How important each one is to me might vary dramatically from day to day or even hour to hour! So here they are:
1. It's easy to get kids to eat their veggies when they helped grow them. I honestly have no idea why so many people complain that it's so hard to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables. I've never had a problem with it, but I think that might be in part because I started the kids out in the garden at a very young age.
|Okay, these aren't garden vegetables (it's actually a veggie tray my mother-in-law brought over for the kids), but you can see how the kids are suffering by being "forced" to eat them! That poor tray did not last long around them.|
3. They know to respect the garden. A lot of times in the past, I've had trouble with neighbor kids tromping through my garden or pulling up plants without permission. My kids know better. Because they are intimately involved in the growing of the garden, they have a stake in not damaging it. Not only does this knowledge apply to my garden, but if we go to someone else's house, they understand to respect the garden there too because of their experiences at home.
4. They learn to respect the Earth and all the things on it. Growing things and getting one's hands dirty in the soil create a connection that is soul deep. They learn to see the interconnectedness of all things this way.
|photo from a Jackson Citizen Patriot article last year about my family treating every day like Earth Day|
6. You don't have to worry what the kids are up to while you're out working on the garden. Compared to some of these things, this may seem like a minor one, but, trust me, when you're pressed for time and trying to hurry and get one more crop of spinach planted so it will be ready for a fall harvest, this can be critical!
7. Give a man a turnip, he'll eat for a day; teach a kid to garden, he'll eat for a lifetime...or something like that. By teaching kids to garden, you are blessing them with a life skill that will help ensure that they'll never have to go hungry, no matter what their fortunes in life bring them.
8. Whether it be by helping out in a community garden or by sharing extra produce from a home garden, gardening isn't really a solitary activity. By helping out, kids can see that they can (and should!) help others in a very important, meaningful way.
|Kids working at Jackson Victory Gardens in Jackson, MI|
|This carrot, which my son pulled himself, was as big around as a zucchini!|