This past weekend, I introduced my toddler to the joys of gardening. Having a home garden runs in the family. It’s a tradition I hope he continues one day.
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.Jeremiah 29:5
There’s no doubt gardening has many health benefits. Besides providing us with fresh food, gardening reduces stress, connects us with nature, and provides us with exercise. According to Martha Stewart Living, most gardening activities fall under the category of “moderate physical activity”. After gardening with my toddler, I felt like I ran a 5k!
From past to present
Gardening runs in my family. I learned from my grandparents who grew vegetables every year in their urban backyard. My grandfather who grew up in the countryside of Virginia, was very familiar with gardening techniques and had a love for fresh foods. My grandmother grew up in the heart of Louisville, but grew up in an era where growing home vegetables and fruits was common and necessary for some.
It’s funny how my marriage mirrors my grandparent’s experience. Christian grew up in more rural county like my grandfather, while I grew up in urban Louisville. We both love fresh vegetables and fruits and welcome gardening into our lifestyle. When we were dating in college, we happened to live across the street from one another. Even then I kept a container in the backyard that had a cherry tomato plant surrounded by several romaines and a few herbs. Some nights we’d have fresh salads with dinner.
My mother also had a small garden as I was growing up. From her I learned how to grow tomatoes, summer squash and several herbs. We once tried to grow a watermelon that my childhood dog tossed around like a ball when the fruit was still small. We laughed about that for years after!
Gardening with a toddler
Teaching our son Freddie about gardening means a lot to me. He’s only 14 months old but I think it’s important to start him off very early. Even as a toddler he is taking in so much about his surroundings and learning about the world. So, this past weekend we planted an herb container together.
We first made a quick trip to buy some flowers and potting soil at Home Depot and a local nursery stand. He really got a kick out of pointing at flowers while saying “see”. He also loved interacting with other shoppers. While shopping, I bought him his own little toy gardening tools, just to give him something safe to use. He likes to emulate my actions and can get fussy when he doesn’t have something in hand. I figured the $5 spent would be worth it.
It was so great for him to be outdoors! Gardening together stimulated so many senses that are still new to him. I encouraged him to touch the dirt, smell each of the herbs, play in sunlight, and pronounce simple words.
Freddie is quite curious, and energetic- he had so much fun! I also enjoyed watching him run across the deck, play in the dirt, and at one point he was trying to shake a plant out of its container. It reminded me of sweet moments from his infant months when I would hold him up to the blossoms on the apple tree and let him connect with nature. It was just one year ago, but gosh TIME FLIES BY and children grow so fast!
Future lessons to learn
Gardening as a kid taught me the importance of nurturing, respect for nature and gave me a sense of where food comes from. I hope Freddie learns this too:
- Gardening keeps us connected with nature and God.
- Growing your own food can save money.
- Sharing your vegetables and fruits with others benefits the community.
- Growing plants teaches you patience, and responsibility.
- Gardening is a good escape when you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, angry or sad.
- Gardening with others can be fun and safe social activity- some churches and neighborhoods offer community gardening.
Overall, gardening with my son was a great weekend activity! We were able to connect with each other, learn together, and enjoy the sunshine. I thank God for this simple and wonderful experience.