Helping children to grow their own vegetables is a highly beneficial activity. As we’ve seen across Europe, many primary schools have their own vegetable gardens. This way they can develop independent skills. Developing a more personal connection to nature and it appears that children who grow their own vegetables are more likely to eat them without protest.
Every year, a supermarket chain in the Netherlands launches a nationwide activity for children called their vegetable garden. Whenever their customers shop there, they can accumulate points, and then save them to collect plant pots with seeds (including lettuce, basil, parsley, tomatoes, etc.). These also come with a description of how to grow it, nurture it, and then how to (eventually) transfer it into their garden.
Unsurprisingly, children absolutely love this idea. The innovative campaign has generated impressive hype, and been a huge success for the company.
We love this dynamic approach to engaging children, as it is one which successfully helps them to have fun, while also being good for them (something that any parent will know to be a challenge).
The focus on growing vegetables is something that we see encouraged across Europe. Even though it is traditionally perceived as a hobby for the older generations, gardening is something that children are increasingly getting involved with, and they take immense delight in it.
So, in this blog post, we’ll be providing you with our full beginner’s guide to growing your own vegetables. This includes the benefits of the activity, some key resources to use, and our top tips for making this a brilliant hobby for you and your child to share together.
What are the benefits of getting children into veg growing?
Helping children to grow their own vegetables is a highly beneficial activity. As we’ve seen across Europe, many primary schools have their own vegetable gardens. This is because, by teaching children how to grow their own vegetables, they can develop independent skills, while developing a more personal connection to nature.
There’s loads of reasons why children enjoy gardening; it’s mucky, fun, independent, ‘grown-up’, creative, interesting and all outdoors.
Then, from a parent’s perspective, there’s even more reasons why they would want to encourage their children to garden.
The benefits of a child growing their own veg include (just to name a few):
Spending quality time outside
Helping them to learn about the world around them
Teaching them to be caring, nurturing, selfless and patient
Encouraging them to ask questions, develop practical skills, and fuelling their curiosity
Being creative, and learning and playing independently
Fuelling a life-long interest in the environment
Connecting them to a stimulating and engaging form of outdoor play
Showing your child how things grow
Spending time away from skills
Learning things outside of school, beyond solely maths and academic skills
By spending time in the outdoor world, you can promote a healthy development
If you’re interested, we would also recommend that you have a read of our anthroposophic childcare philosophy and forest schools blog posts, as the principles of these forms of childcare have significant links with vegetable growing. In fact, this is an activity which comes highly recommended by both anthroposophic childcare philosophers and forest schools.
There are a lot of outdoor activities that you and your child could enjoy together, so why have we focused on growing vegetables in particular?
Well, the obvious point is that it encourages your child to eat healthily. They are far more likely to be excited about eating their greens if they have grown them themselves.
In addition, this hands-on activity, where children can really get stuck-into nature, helps them to learn more about nature, how things grow, and develop a personal understanding of why it all matters. They can see the beauty in the food that they eat, and really appreciate the care that goes into food.
In turn, this will encourage a more caring, less selfless, mindset, which will benefit them in everything that they do, including their later life.
And finally, the process of growing veg requires a lot of patience from a child, but they will soon see that it’s certainly worth the wait. The activity takes a lot of time, and they can be involved every step of the way, from planting the seeds to helping cook the vegetables once they’re ready to harvest. All of this will give them a sense of pride and satisfaction at all the hard work that they’ve done.
Our top tips for growing veg at home
One big bonus is that it doesn’t matter what size your garden is. Even if you only have a balcony or a window sill available at home, it’s also super easy to grow vegetables in pots. So, even if you don’t feel like you have a lot to work with, just make the most out of the space that you have. We promise you’ll reap lots of rewards from it.
So, now that you’re completely sold on the idea of home-growing your veggies, we wanted to help you get started.
As you start out on your veg-growing adventure, our top tips for you and your family are:
1. Start with plants that have large seeds (like courgettes, for example), as they will be a lot easier to sow. So, these plants will be a lot more likely to succeed.
2. Start with plants that grow quickly, so that you manage to keep your child’s interest. For example, a herb garden is a great place to start.
3. As well as choosing plants that can be eaten quickly, look out for plants that germinate quickly, too. This way, your child will soon see the fruits of their labour. They can keep an eye out for sprouts, shoots, leaves and flowers, and eagerly await the veg.
4. Choose plants that your child enjoys eating. For example, tomatoes are a really good plant to grow with a child, because they are bright and colourful, grow quickly, and can be picked and eaten straight from the plant (which is always good fun).
5. Get them involved in the cooking, too. They will take so much pride in being able to serve a dish to the family that they’ve produced almost entirely themselves. And who can blame them? It’s a big achievement!
Also, here are some great, family-friendly gardening resources to check out with your little ones:
The benefits of spending time outside
As you can see, we’re firm advocates of encouraging children to spend time outside.
There’s so many rewards to be gained from getting out into the garden (no matter how big or small it may be), and simply giving your child the opportunity to enjoy being outdoors.
It’s this principle which drives our products, and which has shaped their design, eco-conscious focus, and their multi-use garden play purpose.
If you’re interested in encouraging your child to spend more time in the garden, be sure to check out our product range. Head over to the Mini Beee online shop to browse through our full collection.