Garden Kids

The Basic Knowledge of Feeding Yourself Well

My first inkling that the basics of human existence have escaped some in our society was back in the 70’s when I was working for a judge in Baltimore, Maryland.  The receptionist was on vacation and a temp agency sent a young woman to take her place.  (She was about 23 years old.)

I happen to mention something about farmers one day, and she quickly informed me that she did not associate with farmers.

I was somewhat dumbfounded, but when I recovered enough to speak, I asked her where she would get her food if there were no farmers. She determinedly told me that she would get it at the grocery store where she had always gotten it.

In my thirties at the time, I was still learning about food and health myself.  But I certainly was way ahead of this young woman. To think of her as a Mother and Grandmother (which she probably is by now) makes me a bit uneasy.


Since then I’ve seen and heard many more examples to indicate that we as a society have become unfamiliar with simple but intimate life functions – like eating. Most don’t have a clue about where their food comes from or whether it’s healthful.

Sadder still — they don’t see a need to know.  They have turned the very sustenance of their life (their food) over to the “unseen” someone.  And many do so in “blind faith” that they (whoever they might be) would not sell it if it were bad for you.


Education begins in the home.   Certainly one cannot entrust the future of a child to the school system, most especially in today’s age.

I read recently of research showing the human brain is not fully developed until age 25.  Before that — it is still deficient in the frontal lobes which control decision-making, rational thinking, judgment, and the ability to plan ahead.

This makes you realize the need for good parenting even more!

What youth is exposed to will help them form their habits later in life.  Even if they turn away from that teaching in their teens years, they can come back to that as their brains more fully develop.

You CAN Make a Difference

Ultimately kids grow up and make their own choices. But, they’ve got a much better chance at making good ones if they know the options.

If you engage your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. in the processes of fixing food and growing food  —- studies show they are much more likely to embrace healthy food.

Making food an object of hands-on study can be a simple but important part of education. In addition to teaching that food and meals take planning and effort, it can bring into reality concepts that were only ideas in the class room.

Here’s What I Mean:

Applying subjects like reading, writing, math and science in the real world is best way to help a child learn. Doing is how you learn and that is what improves grades and eventually life skills.

Science can come to life: Planting a seed.  Watching it grow.  Seeing the bees and insects. Putting kitchen scrapes in the soil to decompose with the help of  soil microorganisms. What makes a plant grow? How the plants turn sunlight into food. And on and on.

And why not suggest writing an essay about what you’ve done in the garden today. (Teaches writing and communication skills.)

Math becomes easier when it is applied.  How many 1/4 cups does it take to make 1 cup, etc.

And of course, there is reading the recipes.

Find Their Interest

Remember most children are all about play and fun. Keep in mind that all have different likes and dislikes. If you keep the conversation going and spend some quality time with the child, you’ll hit on what they are most interested in. The door to opportunity will have just opened.  Now you can make a difference.

The Results

Not only will you create memories that will last a life time, but you will be giving one of the greatest gifts: the basic knowledge of feeding yourself well.


  • Great article, Theresa. I’ve been homeschooling my kids for many years, and I agree with everything you said here.

  • Hi Theresa!
    It is so great to see farmer’s markets incorporating kid days into their plans. I love sharing something simple with the kids. They are so awestruck by the simplest little thing…how refreshing! I look forward to the day when my own grandchildren can help on the farm and I can pass down what I learned from my grandfather during their summers. (It is going to be quite a wait! No grandkids yet!)

  • Quote from post: They have turned the very sustenance of their life (their food) over to the “unseen” someone. And many do so in “blind faith” that they (whoever they might be) would not sell it if it were bad for you.

    Oh boy, Theresa – that is a scary (but true) sentence.

    Involving kids in what you are doing, is more difficult than just plopping them in front of a TV or similar. Things take longer, and you have to be more patient and very kind. BUT in the end, you get really good helpers who actually know what they are doing. And, more importantly, you get the time with them before they are off and gone – relationship. Thanks for reminding me about this.

  • Will Allen, the farmer from St. Louis (former basketball star) talks about how his dad made him work in the garden when he was a kid. He resented the hard work at the time, but now he is so thankful that his Dad made him. He has done the same for his daughter, she grew up to be a garden designer, or similar.

    So even if they grumble and complain about helping, they probably don’t hate it as much as they say they do, and some will even like it enough to make it a permanent part of their lives later. Kids don’t always know what’s best for them – as you mention with the brain development. And what better place to talk about life than when you are working together in the garden. I could go on……
    Loved this post. Needed it.

  • Hi Suzanne –
    Hope the market has been wonderfullly successful for you this season. Sounds like you have some delicious offerings.

    I think the memory of being at a farmer’s market would stick with a kids — and then to have a vendor “share something simple” would be even greater. Little things can really make a difference.

    One things about it — there are always plenty of kids around — and you don’t have to be a parent or grandparent to make a significant impact.

    Good hearing from you Suzanne. Thanks for taking time to comment.

    P.S. to readers — click on Suzanne’s name at the top of her comment and see all the variety she offers at market on her “about me” page. If you live close to her — lucky you!

  • Indeed the fact that our society as a whole has totally turned the production of their food over to the “unseen” someone in “blind faith” really is scary!

    And yes, involving kids in what one is doing is more difficult than just plopping them in front of a TV. TV is used as a baby sitter in so many families —- and its a bad one. Kids learn from anything they encounter and I certainly wouldn’t want the programing on TV (99% of the time) being the source of education for my kids.

    You — and the many other Moms like you — who realize this and go the extra mile to educate their kids properly are the world’s hope. And all the time it takes is what builds the relationship with parent and child that is so extremely important especially as a foundation when teen years arrive.

    Kids — as all of us know — are all about “fun”. When they are teeny — it’s best to involve them and make it fun. My little neighbor (at our last residence) use to visit me all the time. He just wanted to dig — and I’d tell him he could dig to the other side of the world as long as he filled it in when he was finished. He thought that was great fun!

    As they get older — it’s nice to have tasks that are their’s in the garden —- and they will in most cases consider that fun if they’ve been taught earlier that it is fun. It’s all in perception as you know. All about getting to really know your kids.

    Thank you Sandra for being such a great Mom and caring about your 3 treasurers enough to take all the time necessary to help them become what they need to be!


  • Hi Theresa may I copy this quote to paste on face book and to my DUG urban garden newsletter?
    Indeed the fact that our society as a whole has totally turned the production of their food over to the “unseen” someone in “blind faith” really is scary!
    If so let me know what I need to do
    if not that’s ok but some thing that bold of ia inprint should be share
    I look forward to your emails

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