Lessons from the Garden
Gardens + Kids = Magic
Everything we need to teach the next generation can be taught through a garden. An ever-changing classroom offering the chance to see that our world is made up of a complex web of relationships, a youth garden teaches children about why they should care about our plants, each other and our world.
To begin, start small, but dream big. Begin by laying the groundwork with simple plant-centered activities with your kids, many of which can be done with common household supplies. Visit your local gardens or accessible parks and greenspaces.
When you are ready to go the next step, plant a container garden — a 5-gallon bucket with drainage holes will do the trick. Then, after experiencing success on a small, but manageable scale, you can slowly grow using other spaces available to you, such as a raised bed in your backyard or a plot at a community garden.
Once you find garden space, figuring out what to plant is the next step. KidsGardening’s growing guides are a great place to start.
Pollinators play an important role in helping plants make their fruit and seeds, which not only helps many plant species reproduce, but also supports our own food system. The best pollinator gardens are designed using native plants, providing the habitat needs of local pollinators. Watching pollinators hard at work engages young gardeners and provides the perfect opportunity for a wildlife safari or scavenger hunt.
Pollinator gardens can also introduce your kids to important environmental issues. Many pollinator populations, including bees, are in sharp decline due to pesticide use, disease and parasite problems and loss of food and nesting habitat. Planting a pollinator garden gives your kids the chance to investigate this crisis and also be part of the solution.
You can use your pollinator garden as a way to get involved in citizen science projects like Global Earth Challenge. Once you download the app, you can use the bee widget to take photos of bees spotted in your new garden and identify what species they are. Then you will be able explore different actions you can take to continue to protect bees in your backyard.
No matter where you start, the most important thing is to just dig in and start growing in any way you can. Providing the kids in your life with space to watch a garden grow will give them the chance to see the wonders of nature up close and gain the knowledge to understand the importance of respecting our environment.
Deep and personal connections to nature are what will lead us to the long-term changes we need to protect our planet.
Sarah Pounders – Senior Education Specialist, KidsGardening
Sarah Pounders is the senior education specialist at KidsGardening. She has been active in the field of youth gardening for over 20 years, coordinating numerous children’s gardens, writing curricula and activities for youth of all ages, teaching formal and informal youth education programs, and conducting teacher training sessions on integrating gardens into the classroom. Sarah also enjoys gardening at home with her two young children and serves as the volunteer garden coordinator at her children’s elementary school.
Header image courtesy of KidsGardening