Sunday, May 3, 2015

Youth, Gardening, and You!

While in Richmond the other day, I couldn't help but marvel at the beauty that lies in the murals and tasteful graffiti that adorn the walls of the brick buildings in Jackson Ward.  After grabbing a bite at Mama J's, the mural above caught my eye, and got me thinking of my planned 2015 garden.  Many don't know this, but I'm a great cook and I managed a program, "Science and Our Food Supply," about ten years ago, and to this day, I have a deep appreciation about preparing my food from the farm, to the table.

Gardening is a great tool to use, to teach youth a range of subjects: math, agriculture, art, healthy eating and responsibility to name a few.  Gardening, for me, is a great way to relax, and once the garden is set up, a great place to meditate!  So what better idea, than to encourage parents to garden with their children.

Many communities have garden plots available; if you live in a community that does not, then consider planting a few vegetables, and/or flowers in a small corner in your yard.  Over the years, I have come to enjoy potted gardens!  For the past four years, I have grown an array of tomatoes, onions, peppers, okra, raspberries and flowers on my deck.

Another idea to consider is an herb garden!  Below is a picture of mine, I started this one in my kitchen last year after realizing I had picked up a few items from Ikea, that I knew what to do with, so I decided to use the small jars to make fresh herbs from the local Farmer's Market available to me, while cooking!  I usually keep mine stocked with fresh basil, dill, mint, and rosemary.  In addition to having "fresh herbs on demand," it also makes a wonderful aroma in my kitchen!

To bring gardening completely across the curriculum, incorporate stories about flowers and vegetables into the activity with your child.  For younger children, I recommend any "VeggieTales" story/movie, "Jack and the Beanstalk," the opportunities are endless!  If you have a story you'd like to recommend, please add it in the comments below.

For pre-teens/teens (yes, your teens can garden with you), I recommend "The Rose that Grew from Concrete" and/or "Marigolds," by Eugenia W. Collier.  Both works teach youth valuable lessons that have an impact on their teen years, in a variety of ways.  After reading, have your pre-teen/teen grow roses, and/or marigolds in a flowerbed, or a small pot.

What will you and your child(ren) grow in your garden this summer?

BONUS: Here is a video of the short story, "Marigolds:"  by Luis H on Vimeo

Marigolds from Luis H on Vimeo.

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