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Spring is here finally, and seed packets have been looming tauntingly in the stores for weeks. If you are an avid gardener, I am betting you already have seedlings growing in your house, and have planted your cool crops outside. I challenge you this year to include your children with your gardening adventures!

Gardening with children can have so many benefits. They will embark on a farm to fork adventure. When asked where their food really comes from, many children state "the grocery store!" Watching plants grow and tending to them from seed to the table is a big thing, and children are very proud of what they can grow!

Eating more produce is another benefit of gardening, as children are more likely to eat what they grow! If they have planted and watered and weeded, they are more likely to try lettuce or beets or green beans. More fruits and vegetables eaten by your child equal a healthier child! Children learn by example, so if you are excited about consuming your home-grown produce, they will be too.

Gardening is exercise—and relaxation. Gardening gets all of you outside and moving—lifting, bending, pulling, and planting. All are great forms of exercise. It is also relaxing. Quietly pulling weeds or watering may calm a busy day for both you and your child!

Now you're thinking—I have no room for a big garden—maybe not—but how about container gardening? Grow a tomato plant in a pot or some fresh herbs. Lettuce can even be grown in a long container. Take your child to the local home and garden center with you to pick out a packet or two of seeds or a plant.

If you have a bigger garden, you can start seeds indoors now to transplant outside later. So start thinking about what you want to plant in your garden. The worst thing that will happen is that you have lots of produce to share with your friends and neighbors, and your family gets to consume a lot of healthy produce!

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, development,