Gardening and kids: Teaching kids where food comes from?

Gardening and kids: Teaching kids where food comes from?

I remember many years ago (before I had children) watching an episode of Jaime Oliver’s School Lunches documentary series and being mortified that young school aged children where so clueless when it came to food. Two things in particular really shocked me:

A- the children couldn’t identify simple vegetables like tomatoes and,

B- when asked where food came from they all said the same thing: the shops. (CRINGE!)

I was reminded of this recently when my son asked me what a custard apple was when we where strolling through Woolworths. We have always played “name the vegetable” and “who’s that fruit?” on our shopping trips but I got to wondering if my kids truly understood where food comes from? Thus I set out on a mission to ensure my kids know exactly where food comes from and exactly what each fruit and vegetable is called and more importantly, what it tastes like.

My plan had 2 parts:

1) Gardening and kids

I wanted to get the kids involved, let them get messy and make food and “farming” a game. Charlie and I went on an adventure to the nursery, he chose his own plants and together with some help from his best friend Madden we planted out herbs, veges and fruit trees. We have been watering them everyday and have even picked and eaten some of our produce. Charlie’s favourite game is to pick off a leaf of mint and smell it! We have even started cooking in the kitchen together, he gets to pick the herbs and add them into the food. We even made mint and lime cordial by freezing the mint into ice cubes.

2) The good old reward chart.

Some may not agree with it but bribery works a treat for me and so the “healthy eating and trying new things” sticker chart was made. Charlie had not been a fan of vegetables at all before the reward chat. Since its arrival on our kitchen wall he has tried 5 new veges and is regularly eating things he previously wouldn’t have touched! Importantly we have a “taste it” rule, he has to have a good sized taste of everything, if he then decides he doesn’t like it he doesn’t have to eat it.I don’t like to force feed, I’d like my kids to love food instead of me having to ram it down their throats! At 3 years old this concept is a bit out there but it seems to be working, slowly but surely Charlie is deciding he likes more and more foods.

Overall our little foray into the world of farming has been a great success. Whether you live in an apartment or have acres and acres of land there are so many ways to teach your kids about food. Most cities have community gardens where you can get your kids involved or you can always plant a seed in an recycled egg tray and watch the fascination blossom on your child’s face as their own little garden beings to grow.

Happy gardening mummies… P.S sorry about the mess!

If you would like more tips and fun ideas on kids and gardening check out this great acitivity list.