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Raising A Crop Of Young Gardeners

GardeningWKids Hand a child a trowel with a pack of seeds and you have the makings of an incredible educational experience. Children's eyes light up at the  thought of a plant emerging from a tiny seed. The whole idea of creating a living garden charms their heart and encourages their imagination, setting the stage for a whole new world of learning.

When a youngster tends a garden, they learn without even realizing it. They learn about science, ecology, and math as well as patience, responsibility and environmental stewardship.

Two weeks ago, I had Naomi Sachs do a guest post about "Nature Deficit Disorder": the new trend of children developing behavioral problems due to their lack of contact with nature and the outdoors. It was great with many resources listed, so be sure to check it out. I have more coming in future posts on that topic.

I also have several articles coming out (newspapers/magazines) on gardening with children, how gardening can be used to help combat today's kids dependence on electronic media, educational gardens and others. I will be posting parts of those articles or links after they are published.

The topic of gardening with children is near and dear to my heart. This (and edible landscapes) is what I am most passionate about. I have two boys who are enthusiastic gardeners and we have many wonderful gardening experiences together.

But I also love to see the excitement in the eyes of other children who have no gardening experience whatsoever. When I visit classrooms to teach about gardening or when they tour my organic garden, they light up. Even a small introduction to what gardening is and how it works will leave a lasting impression.

Sometimes I run into older kids who once visited my garden or attended a gardening/science talk that I gave YEARS ago and they bring up the event and how much they enjoyed it. I am always pleased to hear that "gardening moment" stuck with them.  Many of them go on to tell me what they are growing NOW – which always warms my heart. That says a lot about how our children need this kind of exposure. They find gardening fascinating and that is a good thing!

If you have children of your own, or grandchildren or nieces/nephews or any children in your neighborhood, I encourage you to show them how to plant a seed. By planting a seed, you are planting an experience, a memory and possibly a future gardener!

Here are some sources to help get you started. Many of these sites are geared for gardens at elementary schools, but they are full of info that can be used at home. Home school moms will probably really like some of the science projects here. I have many, many more sites that I will share in future posts…This is just to get you started!

KidsGardening.com is the educational gardening site of the National Gardening Association. This is by far the best place to start. It has general information, projects, crafts and a wealth of educational materials specifically geared towards teaching within the classroom.

California School Garden Network – A site dedicated to garden-based learning at California schools. Lots of tips and links for further information. They even have a School Garden Weekly Newsletter (which is really an informative blog). It would be very helpful for homeschooling.

GardenABCs – Is another site dedicated to educational gardens at schools. Lots of great info here.

GardeningWithChildren: is a site by the Colorado State University Extension service. It has several articles with tips and projects for kids.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.