Managing excess moisture in the vegetable garden will be on the minds of most vegetable gardeners today as the impacts of Cyclone Debbie are revealed along most of the eastern seaboard of Australia. In Brisbane we’ve had about 300mm in 24 hours. Food gardeners in Australia are more often presented with the challenge of keeping […]Continue reading
Corporate workshops using organic gardening as the subject are quite new in the corporate world. Why should the corporate world, in all of its frenetic daily exertion, be interested in such an earthy, slow moving activity as organic gardening? My observations below, after running a number of corporate workshops focused on organic gardening over the […]Continue reading
Organic garden build is a process that is dependent on many factors and for DIY organic gardeners, its very easy to get sidetracked into creating something that does not really serve your needs and motivations. There are a number of key principles I have worked with over the years with our organic garden build Brisbane […]Continue reading
Harvesting herbs from your organic garden is always a joy. We have a mixture of herbs to harvest giving us the delights of fresh herbs for cooking and teas every day of the year. We run the Rose Blossom Children childcare service at our home property and the children, aged from 2-5 years, are often […]Continue reading
How to grow basil, one of my favourite herb crops in the organic garden. If handled well, its a massively productive plant for a small space that crops over long periods of time in your organic garden, especially if you live in a warmer climate. These are my how to grow basil tips after working […]Continue reading
Vegetable seedlings are the starting point for a healthy and productive organic garden, once you have your garden layout and soil well prepared. You will be surprised at how small, no-cost changes in how you manage your vegetable seedlings can make such profound difference to their success. I list simple tips below that I work […]Continue reading
Planting vegetable seeds using open pollinated, hybrid or GMO seeds is an important question for gardeners and this question has been at the heart of large disturbances in farming over the last 60 years. As a gardener, your ideal is to start with the best quality organic seeds that give you the most healthy […]Continue reading
Green manure crops are grown specifically for soil health in your organic garden, rather than grown to eat. This may seem like an unnecessary interruption for most food gardeners. The question is, how committed are you to sustainable soil fertility? My blog this week gives you tips on working with green manure crops. Its a […]Continue reading
Efficient use of all inputs in your organic vegetable garden is vital ethic of sustainable food growing. One of your most important inputs is water and its so easy to waste this precious resource. Here are my vegetable garden water saving tips. The need to work with these tips is brought strongly into focus with […]Continue reading
Having an organic vegetable or herb garden and some fruit trees at your home is a wonderful avenue for engaging your family in a healthy, enjoyable and productive activity. What a joy to have food gardening children!
Bringing up children, especially when they are young, takes up a lot of time. It would be very easy to think that growing some of your own food would be too hard because your life is already full and to get food, all you need to do is jump into the car and go to the shop. Easier, yes, but not necessarily better for you or your family. There are many hidden jems in food gardening which provide benefits to families, in addition to the great tasting food.
Food gardening can be done to a scale that suits you and your available space, be it a simple herb box on your window sill or a big vegetable garden and orchard taking up what was once your lawn. Although your babies are not likely to work in your food garden, they can still be with you in a pusher, on your back or with your partner.
We have had four children and all of them have been involved in our food gardens, two of them from a very young age. Our oldest, who is now 23, is a biodynamic farmer in Europe and his interest started when he was a young teenager. Growing food has become a part of our children’s lives and I feel this is a wonderful legacy we have provided our children. There is no reason why the whole family cannot be involved, from toddlers to teenagers and grandparents.
In my own experience of working in food gardens with children from schools of a wide age range, the young children pick up their interest very quickly. As the child gets older and if they are heavy technology users, it takes longer for them to feel OK about being in the garden.
What are the hidden gems in the food garden for your family?
Connection to the soil has always been a vital part of our human experience. This connection nurtures our soul as well as our physical body. One only has to see a young child play in the dirt to appreciate they know the connection is good for them, without really needing to understand why. Food gardening is also a physical activity, which can be as active or as gentle as you want and its ideal for children of most ages, as you can select activities to suit their physical capacities.
Appreciation of nature
Developing a sense of awe and wonder for nature is a primary step in building a sense of personal responsibility for protecting our environment, no matter what your age. Food gardening, done with organic methods, demands that you appreciate all of nature in and around your garden. The birds, bees, butterflies, caterpillars, ants and other creepy crawlies in the compost heap are all part of the web of life in the garden, in addition to the billions of micro-organisms in healthy soil.
Appreciation of healthy food
Most “fresh” food sold these days has little taste because its grown with chemicals, picked to early and stored for too long. Is it any wonder that children don’t like fruit and vegies. But when they taste food out of your organic garden, they will know immediately that its good. Taste is a very good measure of nutritional quality. So without forcing them to “eat their veg”, let their taste buds do the convincing.
Food gardening provides a wonderful opportunity to do meaningful work as a team for people of any age. This sets a wonderful example for children of planning, care, attention and reward. Our 4 children have all worked in the garden with me over the years and our oldest who is 29 is now a biodynamic farmer. My wife Vicki often sits chatting with me in the garden in the afternoon when its cooler and better for planting. We all work together and share the rewards, healthy great tasting food.
Extending the family
Once you start gardening with your family, you will find that other families will notice and may want to join in with you. Then you can share the work, the produce and your children have more playmates. I was involved with a weekend gardening group some years ago in my local area and we met fortnightly on Saturday afternoons. Children often came, the adults enjoyed each other’s company while working together in the garden and we all brought food and drink to share afterwards.
I find that once you have a clear feeling for why you are in the food garden and the “why” does not just involve food or saving money from not buying food, then you will have a strong platform to keep going with your gardening efforts. Successful food gardening demands sustained effort and patience. Aim for a family of food gardening children. We have seen it work exceptionally well in our family.