A 15′ x15′ plot of the dirt. That’s what my family began with last summer when we joined a community garden.
Hard clay and weeds resided in our garden square. With shovels and pitch forks and hoes, my family worked away, digging and turning and flinging dirt.
Every once and awhile, we’d stop to breathe in the spring air or chat with a fellow gardener or marvel at a baby alpaca as it galloped along the perimeter of the community garden.
And then more digging and turning and flinging dirt.
Soon the plot was ready for planting.
Scooped hands awaited big seeds and tiny seeds and everything in between. Little fingers and mama fingers dropped seeds in the dirt and oh-so-gently covered them. A misting of water for our treasure trove.
And soon they arrived.
Little miracles sprouted, budded, and bloomed in our garden. But not just those green beauties we expected. Miracles of wonder and discovery and togetherness unraveled that summer.
The miracle of Wonder—wonder by our six-year-old son as he helped tend a garden for his first time.
He watched in amazement as our plot of dirt transformed into a patch of greenery and color. Surprises awaited him with each visit to the garden. His little feet followed a meandering vine this way and that, stopping every so often as he bent over and peeked under broad leaves until finally spotting a small green stub sprouting from the vine.
His eyes sparkled as he called me over. “Look mom,” his voice bubbling with excitement. “It’s a pumpkin.”
The miracle of Discovery—discovery of new vegetables and recipes pleasing to each family member’s palate.
Perhaps most notable was my son’s new found love for many vegetables he once snubbed. Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and more. That alone made the time and effort invested in our garden an invaluable commodity.
And the miracle of Togetherness—spending time together as a family working on our garden and growing closer to one another.
For my family, the garden produced far more than baskets of vegetables and flowers. It yielded miracles and beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.
Here’s some ideas on how you can create miracles and memories in the garden with your kids:
#1 ~ Invite your kids to help start seeds in late winter and early spring. Recently, my son and I started seeds for peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. My son loved playing with the dirt, and he has enjoyed watching the seeds sprout and the plants grow.
#2 ~ Designate a row or section for your child to create his own garden. This will make the gardening experience more personal for your child. This year, my son will have his own section in the garden where he can plant whatever he wants. I can’t wait to see which seeds he chooses for his garden.
#3 ~ Use gardening to teach history. You could plant a victory garden and teach your kids about the importance of gardening during World War II. Or you could adopt a three sisters planting system, which involves planting corn, squash, and beans together, and teach your kids about the Native Americans.
#4 ~Plant a row or section in your garden for vegetables to donate to your local food bank. Allow your kids to help you tend this special garden and to help deliver vegetables to the food bank. This creates a great opportunity to teach your kids about giving and serving others.
#5 ~ Invite your kids to help prepare recipes in the kitchen using vegetables harvested from your garden. Not only will this be a fun for your kids, but it’s a great way to expand their vegetable palate.