The youth of today are disconnected from their food system more than ever before. Many have never lived or stepped foot on a farm in their life. This saddens me as an agriculturist, as a student, and as a consumer. Food is commercial. It is artificial. They do not know where their food comes from.
I have always considered myself lucky having a FFA (formerly the known at Future Farmers of America) adviser and an agriculture teacher for a father. Growing food has always been a part of my life. Some of my first childhood memories are of me and my brothers out in the garden, playing in the soil, plucking earthworms form their homes, and bringing a fresh watermelon inside to my mother. Food was real. It was a tangible thing. I knew where my food came from. Having these memories as a child has helped me immensely, and my parents share similar memories with their parents.
Whether it is a small window box in New York City that is growing fresh herbs to put in your spaghetti sauce or several acres of vegetables that you will preserve and eat throughout the winter, growing food with your children is an experience to cherish. The follow examples are a few benefits of gardening found on extension.org:
- Fruits and vegetables from your own garden are higher in nutrients than the ones that have traveled several thousands of miles to get to your grocery store. An article by Michigan State University states, “Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, and it is less likely that the nutrient value has decreased. Food imported from far-away states and countries is often older, has traveled and sits in distribution centers before it gets to your store.”
- Gardening is a great way to engage the whole family in physical activity and lets them help to take responsibility for the food they eat.
- Your garden can lead to new skills and knowledge in the kitchen, which are invaluable lessons for children to learn.
There is one thing that is certain: growing a garden will grow more than just food for you and your family! Happy gardening!