With children who are picky eaters, teens with weight struggles, and kids who are couch potatoes, what is a parent to do? Is there any way to help our kids to move more, eat better, and spend more time outdoors? With summer coming, the answer may be no further than our back porch. This is the season to plant a garden to guide our children to delight in God through his creation.
Regardless of where you live, it is possible to grow your own veggies! From putting a pot in a sunny window, to planting a tomato seedling in a container on your porch, to digging up a part of your backyard to grow a great crop of food, everyone has the opportunity to give this a shot. So what is the value of growing a garden?
While many people enjoy gardening, we often do not consider the benefits it has for children. Watching seeds spring to life invites children into the wonder of God's world. They get to see the blossom turn to fruit and observe the fruit grow and change. When you are able to grow anything outside, you have the chance to teach your children a lot about where our food comes from, what eating healthy can look like, and how great it can feel to work outdoors.
Picky eaters can be greatly impacted by the experience of planting a seed in soil and watching the plant come to life. Kids who have nurtured a garden are much more apt to try what they have grown than to try something that has come from the store. Without nagging and fussing, we can help our children to be more open to a wide variety of food options and encourage them to try the food they have helped to grow. Garden-fresh fruits and veggies smell better, taste better, and are more readily available. Your backyard garden can actually become a place to grab a snack while playing outside!
Growing your own food also leads to healthier eating habits, which will certainly impact weight issues with which our families struggle. Growing basil, tomatoes, garlic and onions can lead to a wide variety of meals that offer nutritional benefits while eliminating unhealthy options. From bruschetta to pesto to spaghetti and sauce, these easy-to-grow crops can help us to lead our children to good food, grown well. Getting our families outdoors to help in the garden is also a valuable experience. Turning off the computer, the video games and the TV and working side by side to weed or harvest our gardens makes memories and teaches kids to value how and where food is grown.
Connecting our kids to the wonder of how God created His world to produce food in great variety and helping them to see what they can do to help those crops grow will impact their activity level and their understanding of creation. Psalm 19:1 tells us that, "the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." All of creation points to God the Creator. Gardening fosters the opportunity to marvel at their Creator God who makes life spring from the ground with gifts for us to enjoy.
As summer draws closer, we can plan together to grow a garden. We can talk about what fruits and vegetables we would like to plant and make memories as we take care of them. And we can enjoy time outside, sharing a common goal, bringing in a harvest that offers far more than food, it is an opportunity to delight in God and his good creation.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster