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Three things that inspired me to use vegetable gardening as a learning tool for kids

If you’d told me five years ago that I was going to be growing vegetable plants and flowers for learning, I would have laughed and made you thoroughly aware of the number of plant ‘causalities’ I’ve had over the years. I’ve killed a wide selection of African Violets, daisies, herbs and even cactus. But here I am, a Mother of two and advocate for using vegetable gardening as an educational and learning tool for kids.

My three garden inspirations 

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1. My Dad.

My Dad has always been a keen gardener and I have many fond memories of being down in the garden with him watering the plants, planting seedlings and harvesting the vegetable plants. Climbing trees and picking mangoes. Then there are the not so fond memories, which now make me giggle, of having to empty the stinky compost and trying to trick my younger siblings into doing it for me, a fail for the most part. Yard and garden was such a corner stone of my happy childhood that I really wanted to share this with my kids.

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2. Fussy toddler eaters.

I’m not going to lie; my kids have been fussy toddler eaters, especially when it came to vegetables. So to combat and get them more involved in the ‘food process’, I decided to plant a few cherry tomatoes and herbs from seed so they could see how things grow and why wasting food is so bad. Getting them to understand that it takes a lot of time and energy for a little seed to grow into something we can eat. After weeks of watching our little seeds grow, nurturing them with water and then harvesting, it was a surprise to see how quickly my kids devoured them! It was like they had spent so much time with their little plants that they couldn’t bare NOT to try. Fantastic right!

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3. Engaging in nature play.

Our home is one were both parents work, whilst my role is part-time and flexible I am incredible time poor and by the end of the week extremely tired. It’s easy to switch the TV on to just grab a few extra minutes of sleep and let the electronic babysitter do its thing. I have no problem with that, I need to re-fuel, but having the garden is a great motivator for me to get outside every weekend with the kids and get them engaged with nature. We dig for worms, hunt for bugs, harvest seeds, engage in imaginary play and nature craft. Time in our garden is always full of laughter and questions….. Lot’s of endless questions, but that’s awesome in itself.

So having kids changed my perspective on gardening and inspired me to use vegetable plants and flowers as learning tools. Whilst I still wouldn’t call myself a ‘good’ gardener, we still have the occasional casualty, I get out there and I do it. Why? Because I can see the difference in my kid’s awareness of the world around them, attention to nature and the animals in it. They want to know why some leaves are red and others are green. We count, we have ‘experiments’, and we talk about bug life-cycles. We are learning without structure and it is fun.

Easy As! Strawberry Planter Easy As! Make a Scarecrow

Renee Nugent writer for the About the Garden magazine and funmarkerHi, I’m Renee and I’m a self confessed fun maker. Whilst I’m not the world’s best gardener (I’ve killed cactus), I believe that getting my kids gardening is one of the most important experiences I can give them as a parent. It’s my way to teach them about the environment, food production, healthy living, science and sustainable practices in a fun and physical way. I love that they are willing to taste our garden produce and that we incorporate many of our garden ‘treasures’ into our craft activities.

So don’t let past gardening failures burden you, we’ve all killed plants and that’s OK. Just get out there and garden with your kids, because….. well….. it’s fun :-)

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