The importance of children and the garden

From the moment a baby is born they learn to act souly on instinct. I know I have mentioned this before in some previous posts but I believe it is a point that is extremely over looked. A child best learns to communicate through experience. For example, upon watching how a parent interacts with another person during a situation the child will take from that observation different communication and interaction skills and apply it to their lives. As the child grows it’s intellect broadens as it takes it’s perception and experience through life to make future decisions. It’s like the saying “monkey see, monkey do” and “trial and error”. A child will try the things that they learn and observe from other’s and see how they work during interactions with the outside world. Not only do they do this with communication skills but they do this with everything. Trial and error during play with toys, people and animals and it never stops.

Children are constantly learning as I have pressed above. What I have most learned from watching my son though is that he never grows tired of the outdoors. He is encapsulated by the beauty and wonderment of nature and is always making connections. One thing I have most noticed about him through our garden is that it is not only a fruitful place to eat but a place where he can make connection with life, earth and nourishment of his body.

I have many memories from my childhood of playing in my mothers garden. I would spend hours in the heat of the sun picking ripe red tomatoes from the vine. I would fill the bottom of my shirt full of tomatoes and find a place in the shade to eat them in. At the time I did not know of the influences it was having on me but as an adult I can reflect a larger picture. I could not have imagined what my life had been like if I was not surrounded by beautiful plants and vegetables. I may not even be nearly as intrigued with them as I am today if it weren’t for my experiences of reward from the garden. I’ve grown to herbalism and all ends of gardening that I never knew existed and I have to give thanks to my mother for planting that seed. (Pun Intended). The garden has taught me patience, kindness, discipline and overcoming challenge that in many ways has been helpful to other life challenges. It has become my place of meditation and relaxation and I find it so important that whether you have garden large or small, the feeling of reaping even the smallest of joys from your garden can have the biggest impact.

Upon starting my own garden with my two year old son, I didn’t realize that I would not only be gaining literal fruits of my labor but memories and observations that I would not have otherwise experienced. From seed to sow my son has watched the garden grow. He helped me in the coldest of winter months prepare the indoor green house and plant the seeds in plots. We watered, fed and watched them sprout and cared from them until the winter soil thawed. He watched and helped us prepare the soil and till the dirt with compost and plant food in preparation for the seedlings that we started through the winter. When the soil was ready and the weather was warm he helped me to plant more seeds outdoors and take the ones that we nursed inside and bring them to the soil outdoors. I let him help to dig the holes and place the plants in each hole and with that he also had his own watering can to water the flowers. Through the growing season and raising our plants he also was there watching when we had to tackle challenges such as aphids on our herbs to which he then observed me concocting a mixture of essential oils water and soap and then proceeding to the garden to treat the plants. Although the complexity of what I was doing at the time may not have registered to him, his observation of my actions had left him in wonder. He knew that I was caring for the plants as he could hear in my voice the concern of “oh no’s” when we seen the bugs.

At the time it was fun and I did not expect anything to stick with him until I later learned that the simple act of being involved with the garden had stuck with his interest through the year. He continued to water the garden and feed the plants with me, we plucked weeds together and made sure we gave the plants what they needed. The curiosity never left him. Being delighted by his interest I thought I would continue to feed him more.
When flowers bloomed and the season grew hotter I explained to him how the flowers would then be pollinated by the bee’s which would then help them turn into fruits. Again at the time I was not sure if he quite understood what I was telling him until he later in the season relayed to me what I had told him. Fruits began to grow from the flowers and as we continued to pick weeds, water and feed I could see the delight on my son’s face! He interacted with the plants by kneeling down and feeling the tomatoes and picking through the leaves. Each time he entered the garden he would check back to the tomatoes and play with them. Of course he tried to pick some green ones which I had to then correct him but once he started to see them turn red he then understood that red tomatoes meant that they were ready to pick and eat.

Once the garden really started to produce he would grab his wagon and fill it with as many red tomatoes as he could handle and pull them around. From his wagon he knows we then take it in the house and wash them to eat. This process alone has a deeper connection then meets the blatant eye. As he grows older his understanding of doing this through the years will grow larger and deeper. Not only will it be normalcy to him but he will then understand where real food comes from and how things are made. Not better yet the simplicity of growing your own food but the intricate process that happens scientifically when we grow our food.
The Majority of the population does not know where their food comes from, nor do many care, but I say it is the single most important information to know when it comes to health. For my son I hope that I can provide him with a childhood and lifetime of knowledge and connection with not only his food, but nature and god as well. The complexity of the design of our creation is all too important when it comes to feeling purpose in this world and children need to feel and embrace that purpose.

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