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Nurturing a Green Thumb:The Benefits of Family Gardening

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Now that the warm weather has arrived (for the most part), and we're all itching to come out of our winter comas, it's time to get the family outside and enjoy the fresh spring air! It isn't always easy to figure out family, fun activities that aren't going to cost an arm or a leg. Also, the usual activities sometimes seem as though they are one and done: your family partakes in the activity once, and then they want to move on to something bigger and better.

What about starting an activity at home, though, that can last all season long (if not multiple seasons long)? Starting a family garden with your children is a great way to get them outside and exercising, while also teaching them life lessons along the way.

Although many people already have small garden, they may not grasp the full benefits of that garden and getting their family involved! On the opposite side of the spectrum, I realize that for many families the idea of a big garden is either daunting or just unfathomable. Both sides of the fence have more to benefit from then they realize.

Worried about size constrains? Don't be, because a garden of any size can have the same benefits for your family. You don't need to have a plowed ¼ acre plot to teach your children the responsibilities of caring and nurturing their plants. If you only have a small space or patio to work with, why not try planters for a minimalist vegetable patch? Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs can all share a nice planter together and create a salsa or tomato sauce garden for your family to look forward to mixing together.

A viable garden, no matter the size, is a great way to get your children involved in their own meals. Unfortunately, a lot of children instantly turn their noses up at anything green. They are often wary of trying new things, and that wariness often comes across as defiance. When a child plants and tends their own produce, however, they develop a sense of pride in their work, as well as the fruits of their labor (literally)! The more variation that is in your family garden, the more your child's horizons will expand. If you can only fit a couple plants this season, try something totally different next year!

Having a planting area is also a great way to get your family into composting to reduce waste. Your family can learn the benefits of allowing organic matter decompose into the soil, while reducing the amount of matter going into a plastic trash bag and landfill.

Gardening is not only a great way to keep your children away from electronics; it's also a great way to get them to connect with the earth and the past. As kids grow up all they can think about is their future. By tying them into the ground and into their plantings, they are connecting to a time of the past when most vegetables were grown at home and the grocery store was a thing of luxury. This connection helps children understand, and even become fascinated with, the stories of their own family history and stories of old. There is no generational divide when it comes to working hard to grow your own meals.

Long Island Green Living Articles > Nurturing a Green Thumb:The Benefits of Family Gardening

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