Altadena Community Garden, garden, gardening, gardening with children, gardening with kids, sustainable food, sustainable living, winter garden
In my backyard garden I put up small fences around many of the garden boxes to keep out the feral cats and the raccoons. Inadvertently, they are now (more or less) keeping out a third destroyer of vegetable garden delights – my almost three-year-old. His motivations are heartwarming. He is not digging for grubs, tearing out anything in his way. He is not looking for a good bathroom. He is actually looking for a tasty snack.
The other morning he says to me, “Mommy, I am going to check if the carrots are ready.” This means pulling up the tiny, itty, bitty things only to tell me that no they are not ready, but that they taste good. I know this because the previous day, after harvesting a few larger carrots together, he realized how great they are fresh out of the ground and thought he would sample some more. This was after stripping the pea vines bare, taking down a few of the vines along the way.
While my six-year-old enjoys and appreciates eating the fresh garden produce, she has lost much interest in the actual gardening. While I work, she creates mud pits and story lines with her little animals. Not gardening, but good stuff all the same.
The almost three-year-old, on the other hand, has taken a great interest in the garden. He loves to water, sow seeds, and harvest. He helped with the broccoli in the community plot a few days ago and ate his share on the way back home. So while I may lose a few pea vines or carrots along the way, I have to sit back and remember that one of the big reasons I garden is for them. The garden is a place to know your food and I am reminded that that is exactly what is happening when he pulls up a teeny, tiny carrot or takes down the entire pea vine while wrestling off a pod. He is learning in that messy, trial and error, experiential way.
The kind of learning that sticks. And the lost carrots and pea vines don’t feel so much like a loss anymore.
Lol, I now have the most amazing image in my mind of an adorable little urchin, sitting in the middle of a vegetable bed feasting on freshly pulled carrots, muck and all, without a care in the world 🙂
Oh to be an uninhibited child again were muck is just another toy to play with and if the morning snack you found in mums vegetable garden has a light covering of soil, all the better 😀 😉
Growing Up in the Garden said:
Nice image! I think my reality is not quite so romantic, lol. I have to keep a balance between letting him explore and not letting the entire garden bed be uprooted. He is persistent and when those peas are out of his reach he has figured out he can just pull the vine down….
We have very similar three year olds! My little guy insists being in the garden with me and always wants to hold the hose when I water. A couple of weeks ago when I was ready to dig up my beds, I helped him bring out his digging tools and he “helped” me dig. I showed him there were worms under the soil and that just delighted him so much. He knows what the paths are and I rarely have to remind him to stay on the paths.
My eight year old of course want to hold the hose, but doesn’t have the same interest in the garden, nor what I grow in it!
Growing Up in the Garden said:
It is great how quick they learn where to step and not to step. Every time we have other children over and they are trampling through the plants I remember not to take my children’s knowledge of the garden for granted. Right now my three year old is so excited that we are growing watermelons. The have just sprouted and he runs out there every day to check if there are any watermelons yet. Poor thing doesn’t understand he will have to wait most of the summer. My six year old, on the other hand won’t even hold the hose. She has almost no interest in the garden, but will eat a lot of what comes out of it. In the long run they will take away so much information about food and how it grows. Cheers!