Teach Your Child to Love Vegetables: Gardening with Children

By Diana, Contributing Writer

I’m always so excited to share a bit about my passions here at Keeper of the Home.  Recently, I’ve enjoyed sharing a couple of posts on budgeting in real food and cooking with seasonal vegetables that both nourish and taste phenomenal.

Many of you have started to follow me on instagram where I frequently post pictures of my ridiculously good lunches for kids.

As you can tell, I enjoy loading up my children’s diets on vegetables.  A frequent question that I get is, “How do your children react to that food?”

As much as I’d love to respond that my children LOVE their vegetables, well, they’re kids. There are vegetables that they truly enjoy, others that they tolerate, and some that they just can’t stand.

However, they always eat their vegetables, and it’s usually because we strike up conversations on growing them. You see, a great way to teach your children to love, or tolerate, vegetables starts by gardening with your children.  At least that’s been my experience.

Gardening with Children

Each year, while the weather is frigid and our soil is still covered in snow, my children and I pore over brilliantly colored pages of seed catalogs. Together, we pick out vegetables in all shapes and sizes and circle the ones that we’d like to learn about and grow.

We talk about how they grow and what kinds of foods we can make with them.

With both new and saved seeds in hand, we start to plant lettuces, brassicas, and warm summer vegetables indoors.

Again, we talk about how the vegetables will taste once they grow.

As the snow melts and the birds begin to chirp, my children and I excitedly hurry ourselves outdoors and slosh around in the mud as we prepare our beds for the season’s first sowing.

Tiny hands experiencing the miracles of life and anticipating food they’ll get to eat.

As the weather warms, we continue to sow, plant, and tend.

And as my children have gotten older, it’s been a blessing to see them sweat a good sweat and understand that it takes hard work to eat good food.

As the garden grows, we all get excited to harvest after months of hard work.

Together, we choose a recipe and learn what it means to harvest when our vegetables are at their peak of freshness.

It’s after all of those months of hard work that when I serve them a dish like these chicken poblano enchiladas, although they may look at it weary, they are usually more than eager to take a big bite and savor every ounce of sweat they poured into their meal.

My children eat their vegetables because they are involved in the food that they eat.  They know how vegetables are grown and most importantly understand the hard work that it takes to grow them.  All of these efforts is showing them how to appreciate their food.

There are other ways to teach our kids to love vegetables; however, I can’t think of a more fruitful way than by gardening, side-by-side, with my children.

Oh… and we cook together to ;)

How do you teach your children to love vegetables?

About Diana

As a first generation American, Diana shares her family’s traditional Spanish and Mexican recipes at her blog, My Humble Kitchen. As a mami and urban homesteader she also writes about her faith, family, organic gardening, raising backyard chickens and preserving the harvest.

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Comments

  1. Michelle jones says:

    I love the idea of teaching kids about loving veggies via gardening!
    One thing that has really helped my kids learn to love the taste of veggies is by serving a small daily veggie smoothie. They will drink these easily and seem to acquire a taste for veggies very early on. My two year old will now eat any veggie I put on her plate (minus mushrooms—but they’re not even a veggie ;-)

  2. Thanks for this article….Gardening feeds my soul and I too enjoy sharing this love and connection with nature to my grandchildren. Its amazing to see children glow with pride and wonder all at the same time. Who would have though that radishes could be such an self-esteem booster. God is truly great.
    A couple of years ago I did a Gardening Video blog that you and your readers might also enjoy. Here is it’s URL http://katydidgarden.wordpress.com/2011/03/

  3. Beautiful garden, children and article, Diana!! Lovely to see you writing over here.

  4. What beautiful children. I recently found your website and I love it. My brother is quite the gardener too and he goes out with his children into the garden to plant and pick. They love it, and of course I love it when I get to eat what he grows :) Keep gardening, I love it that you are teaching your children to appreciate good food.

  5. We do the same things here. Our 5 year old loves to help plant seeds, and water the garden. He will pick various “leaves” (herbs), veggies and fruits, and eat them right there in the yard. I need to involve him more in the kitchen, though. His favorite garden pick is, of couse, strawberries, which is the first food to ripen early every summer.

  6. Great article – funny timing as I posted about gardening (specifically planting greens) today! http://behealthybehappywellness.com/2013/03/growing-your-own-greens-save-money-and-enjoy-fresh-greens/

  7. Great article! Love the picture of the little hand with dirt and seeds. :) We do a small backyard garden every year. Don’t you love kids eating cherry tomatoes right off the vine? Mine even snack on herbs. After several years, I have my garden plan down pat. I grow things that are easy and things that are expensive at the grocery store or farmer’s market. I hope you don’t mind me posting this, but here is my link with a free printable garden plan and a seed shopping list, along with some hints on planting and buying seeds.
    http://apinchofcharacter.com/2013/02/20/planning-your-small-plot-garden-layout/

  8. Love this! Great timing, too–I’m about to start planning my first garden. I’m looking forward to including my kids in the process, but I have to say, it’s all a bit overwhelming. Can you recommend a good seed catalog?

    • Hi Jenn! I’ve been gardening for many years now. However, when I first started, I had a tiny plot. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and honestly, if you visit your nearest garden nursery, they’ll have wonderful seeds to pick from. Since the variety will be limited, it won’t be so overwhelming. I would start with your favorites, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots, and lettuce. The kids LOVE carrots!! They sell small varieties which will ensure a good crop and it’s wonderful seeing their eyes light up to pull a carrot out of the Earth. Such a blessing!! My favorites seeds come from Seed Savers Exchange. They have a catalog they can send you but be prepared, there are TONS of vegetables seeds in there. So make a simple plan before even opening up the catalog ;) Have FUN!!

  9. I loved this post! I’ve been wanting a vegetable gardener for years but the house that we live in is surrounded by trees and we get ZERO sunlight. But the house is on the market and we’re hoping to get to a bigger & sunnier house soon! Our kids don’t put up too much of a fight when it comes to vegetables and it’s probably because we always include the boys in the cooking process. The boys are only 3 and 1 so their involvement is limited but always enthusiastic and neither of them have a problem with eating their vegetables! hoping that it stays that way with age! :)

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