Children are naturally drawn to the garden and feeling the earth in their hands. It becomes a magical place for them to explore dirt, plants and other living things including worms, butterflies and other critters. It’s incredible to see how instinctual children are in the garden, whether they have one at home or if they are setting foot in a garden for the first time, everyone gets digging, picks up a magnifying glass to investigate more or feels the different textures of various plants.
I’ve seen firsthand how a child’s perspective on food can change when they are given the opportunity to pick a vegetable or herb right off of a plant and then try it. When we make kale smoothies during our program, some parents are surprised by their child’s reaction. Some children are trying these foods for the first time (some just starting solids!) yet proceed to down a very green smoothie after they have picked and washed kale from the Learning Garden and added it along with other ingredients to a blender.
During a recent Learning Garden program, a brother and sister admitted they didn’t like zucchini and never ate it. Then they spotted giant zucchini plants growing in our garden and were excited to learn that they were ready to be picked. They carefully pulled one off its plant, broke it into three pieces and enjoyed a fresh snack.
Our planet is full of natural wonders and when children are allowed to explore the outdoors, they find worms wriggling in the soil, they notice how flowers attract pollinators, they watch how plants grow and change. Most importantly, they ask questions, they want to learn more and their curiosity motivates them to keep exploring and sometimes, try new foods!
Children and their parent/caregiver are invited to join Education Specialist, Nicole Luney in the Learning Garden every Friday between 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. until September 1st, 2017.