From Garden to Plate – City Farming with the Kids
Life With Our Wild Ones
I have always been quite passionate about teaching my children where fruits and vegetables come from, and where possible we try and make a lot of our food from scratch. Don’t be fooled, they still do eat processed food!! As much as I love the utopian idea of them eating ‘all-natural food’ and even though I really (really) enjoy making food from scratch – the reality of this is that unfortunately, I don’t have the time. My partner and I both work full time during the day, and by the time the kids are home from Kindy, evening routine kicks in and they need to have their dinner, have a bath, read a story, and get tucked into bed! Sounds pretty straight forward right….. Did I mention each step involves negotiating with two 4 year olds? By this time we are also shattered and the dreams of transforming meals from garden to plate often fade into ‘tomorrow’s plan’. I often tell myself that I’ll do some food prep at night after they have gone to bed, but the truth is I am exhausted. I often try to take on too much, and I’m gradually learning to slow down, not take on too much and be not only happy but proud of the things we can teach them.
Millie & Ollie love going to their Grandparents house and exploring their garden. Their Nana has always had a bit of a green thumb and has a big, beautiful passionfruit vine, grows sugar snap peas, capsicums as well as a few other fruits and vegetables. The kids love picking fruit and vegetables which go straight from the plant and into their little mouths. Typically, some of this food I struggle to get them to eat from a plate at home, yet they are more than happy to pick it from a plant and eat it raw. Funny that!
During a weekend at home, we decided that we would put together a little vegetable patch for the kids in our little garden. I’m absolutely the first to admit that I’ve not got the best track record with keeping plants alive, so this would be a hobby the kids and I could learn together.
Where to start!? We seen in our community Facebook Page that a man local to us was giving away some sweet potato cuttings! Perfect – we rose to the challenge and planted those as well as some cucumber, pumpkin, chili, carrot, cherry tomato, and sugar snap seedlings. We built a trellis for the plants to climb and made a care plan.
Together we would water the plants every night. Every morning the kids would wake up and want to go and look at their plants and see if there had been any changes. Some mornings there was excitement when they would spot new sugar snap peas or new cherry tomatoes to pick, and other mornings there were tears when a possum or bush turkey had gotten in and taken everything, leaving behind a mess.
We took the kids to a farm recently to pick some strawberries and do a farm tour. This was a family run farm and they encouraged the kids to eat as many strawberries as they wanted while picking. They clearly knew how to talk Millie & Ollie’s language. After picking 7kg’s of strawberries we were asked if we wanted to do a farm tour. The owners mainly farmed herbs, strawberries and finger Limes. As we walked through the fields, the farmer would give us little tastes of the different finger limes and show the kids all the different herbs. It was great to see them taking it all in and identifying the different herbs.
On the way home we were talking about what we could make with al the strawberries and what herbs we should try and plant in the garden. I felt very proud hearing Millie say “If we grow coriander in our garden you won’t need to buy it from the shop anymore” and “We can make our own strawberry ice-cream” as it made me realize that they really are learning a lot from the different adventures we go on and activities we do at home. I highly recommend taking your kids to a place like a strawberry farm or even a local community garden where you can teach them about how herbs, fruits or vegetables are grown. It really surprised me how interested and invested they were in this AND it is also a win as we were all outside spending time together.
GARDEN UPDATE – So, the aforementioned possums and bush turkeys, along with the recent weather being hot, cold and stormy had our little garden looking sad. Over the weekend just gone we finally made the call to start our garden again and bring life back to it. As we were ripping out the sweet potato plant, we found about 4 sweet potatoes under the soil……Millie and Ollie were over the moon with this and quickly scooped them out and started washing them talking about what they were going to make! Motivation restored! All was not lost and now we are coming up with ideas to protect our little home garden-farm from the locals (wildlife) 🙂
I highly recommend giving this a go – check the back of seedling packets for advice on where and when to grow different fruits and veggies! Feel free to comment your ideas below!