My mom and dad brought some serious farming skills with them when they came to the States. I grew up watching my dad work out in the garden every day, planting every vegetable imaginable. I was a little disappointed as a child that half of our backyard was occupied by a vegetable garden, but I see now how valuable it is and I appreciate the exposure I received, as well as the quality, organic vegetables I consumed.
At my own home, I created a much smaller version of a vegetable garden. We grow tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers and whatever else we can fit. I always involve the kids because they love to do it, they love watching the plants grow, and it definitely gets them more interested in trying the foods. My daughter would literally go outside and pick cherry tomatoes off the plant and beg me to wash them right away so she could eat them.
I am not alone in my theory that involving children in the gardening process promotes an interest in eating vegetables. George Ball, Chairman and CEO of national gardening brand W. Atlee Burpee & Company (website) states “In our research at W. Atlee Burpee, we have found that kids who grow vegetables alongside their parents eat them regularly and with gusto."
The Burpee company found, in a recent poll of their garden customers, that 93 percent of respondents believe that children who engage in vegetable gardening with their parents are more likely to take an interest in eating vegetables.
Ball feels that if we get children involved in gardening, we can help in the fight against childhood obesity. “With one in every three children in the U.S. either overweight or obese, it’s clear this epidemic is now the nation's disease," says Mr. Ball. Getting children to help in the gardening process will hopefully encourage them to make healthy decisions when eating.
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For more information on gardening with children, please visit the Burpee Kid’s Gardening page here.