When I asked my kids where their carrots came from, they said "the veg aisle".
I pushed them more: "But how did they get to the veg aisle?" "The stock room, in the back, in those crates," said my eight-year-old. "Okay, but before then?" I quizzed.
"A truck," the five-year-old said, "a big truck!" "And how did it get on to the truck? Where did it come from?" I willed them to say, "a lovely local farm," but they stared blankly at me as they munched on their cereal.
I walked them out to our back garden and showed them the carrots, scallions, leaks, sweet pea, courgettes and strawberries in our veg patch. They’ve watched me prep the soil, sow the seeds and water and watch as mother nature took over, but they failed to recognise that the food in our fridge is produced on local farms, that our milk comes from the cows in the field, and that they can very easily do this themselves too. This innocent conversation resulted in us digging out the tools and setting up a veg and herb patch just for them.
So how can we encourage our kids to grow their own food and learn where their food comes from? Start simple.
Where To Grow
A small spot for kids is ideal. A corner of the garden or pots on the patio work just as well, as do hanging baskets. You don’t need a large space or a specific veg patch to get kids interested in growing their own. Instead, choose foods that will suit your space, taking into account how well the sun hits the area and how big the plants grow. For example, pumpkins need a lot of space, so stick to carrots or courgettes if space is limited.
Choose The Easiest Foods
Some foods are more accessible to grow than others, so choose the easiest foods to get your kids interested in watching their veg grow. Strawberries are always a hit and easy to grow, especially in hanging baskets as they trail. Keep them protected with netting, as birds love them just as much as kids. Courgettes, broad beans, salad leaves, and tomatoes are great foods for kids to grow.
Try A Herb Garden
With the fragrant leaves and hardy nature of herbs, a herb garden is a great way to encourage kids to nurture and grow their own herbs. Thyme, mint, parsley, rosemary, and oregano are keen family favourites. Cress grows fast with instant gratifying results for kids, and chives come back year after year, flowering in late spring or early summer with feathery purple flowers.
However you decide to introduce your kids to grow their own food, be sure to encourage them to eat their produce too!