Little Farmers Eat Their Veggies {Guest Editorial}

Greg Carbone (dad, farmer, and creator of DIY Backyard Farm) joins Hip & Healthy Kids to share how his kids joyfully eat their veggies.  You’ll be grabbing a bag of seeds and a shovel after you read this 🙂

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A lot of people ask us how we “got” or “made” our kids eat their veggies. The wording of those questions always sounded odd to us because we never felt like we “made” our kids eat their veggies. We certainly did not coax them into doing so either. We might have to force them to clean up their crayons or trick them into tidying up their rooms. However, our kids delight in the wondrous flavors of fresh produce.
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Our secret to veggie eating success was and still is a matter of creating the right environment. Our children have grown up with an edible garden in the backyard and plenty of containers with fresh herbs and veggies spread throughout the yard (on the windowsills too). By the way, my use of the term edible garden refers to a garden with vegetables, fruits and/or herbs.
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Kids love to see things grow, so it was not long before they started asking questions about and requesting tastes of the fresh berries, peas and cherry tomatoes.
 Swiss Chard & Seek
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Their own curiosity drove them into our edible gardens just the way mine did 37 years ago. All we did was encourage them to explore (safely). Of course, they have to be old enough to grasp some basics and garden safely.
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Here is how we engaged our kids with edible gardening and “got” them to eat their veggies:
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1) We frequently toured the gardens and explained the growing process: planting the seeds, watering, tending to young plants and harvesting.
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2) Allowed them to have their own little gardens. They selected the veggies (usually lettuces, beets, swiss chard, peas, etc.) they wanted to grow. We did guide them towards faster growing produce. Step 2 included allowing them to design their own garden plans with paper and crayons. Drawing garden plans is a creative pastime when the weather outside is frightful!
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3) Helped them understand the basics of garden care and how plants grow.
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4) Got creative with cool plant identifiers, building trellises, etc.
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5) Let them select veggies, fruits and/or herbs for a home cooked meal.
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6) Selected age appropriate books on fruits, vegetables and herbs
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Of course we always make sure to Have Fun and watch them carefully to ensure they are safe.
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It is hard to quantify the health benefits our kids are getting from their organic, produce filled diets. However, it is generally well accepted that diets with sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables are healthier than diets filled with processed foods. Just not having to fight with them at meal time is benefit enough!
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IMG_1940If you want to start your own backyard edible garden then I recommend my easy to follow DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide. It even includes garden planning worksheets and sections to take down notes. For a limited time I am offering $2.00 off the $14 retail price by using discount code 33QXWNDJ  (expires 4/30/15).  The code is only valid when purchasing the book at my eStore found here –> https://www.createspace.com/5254668 

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You can also find edible gardening information, tips and fun videos on my blog – www.diybackyardfarm.com

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Check out Greg’s adorable daughter’s garden find.  That is some carrot! 

 

Greg & kids with cucuzzaGreg Carbone is a husband, father and suburban New Jersey resident. He has a passion for home gardening with a special “taste” for growing his own fresh, organic produce. While not formally trained in gardening or farming, he has a lifetime of experience growing fruits, vegetables and herbs with great success. Greg‘s mission is to help people (especially parents and their kids) reconnect with their foods. He believes edible gardening is one of the best ways to do it. He also feels that virtually anyone with a little dirt and some desire can grow healthy, wonderful produce!
 
Greg is the creator of the informative edible gardening website www.diybackyardfarm.com
When not gardening, writing or working his day job, Greg can usually be found riding one of his many bicycles or playing with his kids. 

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