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I come from a long line of gardeners. My mom always had a huge garden every year. She would preserve it all and keep it on a set of shelves that covered one whole wall in our basement. In the spring, the shelf was filled with empty canning jars, and by fall, it was stocked with every sort of produce imaginable! My mom was the busiest person alive in the summer, and we always had wonderful meals!

I have a huge garden now, and I have imparted my love of gardening to our 10 year old. He loves to harvest produce, plant seeds and even pull weeds. Working in the garden is like an exploration to him. These experiences have taught him a lot and not just about gardening.

He has learned about spatial relations, like planting three packets of carrot seeds together gets a little crowded, and they really don’t grow well! He has learned math, like making eggplant parmesan from our produce, and doubling the recipe. He has also learned to cook, which is a life skill that MANY adults do not possess in this day and age of fast food. He has learned science, like when we plant twice the amount of dill to attract caterpillars that turn into beautiful butterflies. He has also learned about giving back to his community; we share extra produce with our neighbors who may not have a garden. He has learned responsibility, as the garden needs tending every week with watering and weeding and harvesting. It will die without him.

The great part about this is, he doesn't even know he’s learning. It’s all fun to him - as it should be! If it's fun, he's going to keep doing it. It's very grounding to work in the garden after a stressful day as an adult, and even better when you are open to having your child out with you learning and playing! I highly recommend gardening with your child, even if it’s just a tomato plant on your deck! It’s not too late for a fall garden—maybe some lettuce?

Cindy Brison MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Cindy Brison has worked in the nutrition field since 1989. She has a  Master of Science degree in Community Nutrition and a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics. Cindy is a mother of three and specializes in teaching food safety, gardening, cooking, and health and wellness classes to childcare providers, youth groups, and adults. Learn more about Cindy and the other UNL Extension nutrition experts at ...

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Categories: nutrition, parent-stories,