A recent survey has identified that nearly 70% of the fresh produce sold in stores across the US contains traces of pesticides. With this fact in mind, it’s all the more important that people not only embrace organic farming, but crucially, get America’s kids on board too. By ensuring that the next generation is equipped with the skills to grow their own produce – and the understanding of why it’s important to know where their food has come from – parents, teachers and carers are boosting their children’s health, as well as helping to preserve the planet for them. Even toddlers can get involved with spotting bugs in the garden, so it’s never too early to start this important mission.

 

What’s in it for the kids?

Aside from eating delicious organically grown food that’s free from chemicals, budding farmers will also be learning important life skills, such as how to create compost from food waste, and how to become more self-sufficient by growing the produce they love. Studies have also shown the enormous benefits of being outdoors for children; from healthy sun exposure to help the body produce vitamin D, to learning to appreciate nature. It’s also a low cost and easy way to boost your family’s mood, alleviating anxiety and everyday worries.

 

 

Celebrate dirt

 

If you’re looking to encourage organic farming with your children, the first step is to celebrate dirt. From a very young age, children are curious about puddles, mud and bugs in the garden. Try to encourage this natural instinct, and don’t be too hard on them when they come home a little dirty. Studies have shown that germs present in mud can actually boost children’s immune systems, as well as improving their tactile skills and problem solving. Don’t be fooled into thinking that dirt is just for boys either: getting outside in nature is fun for both boys and girls, so strip away the stereotypes, and let them explore the soil. If they’re reluctant at first, playing with toy diggers, ride on tractors or dump trucks (regardless of their gender) will provide hours of fun, or you could encourage them to get to know the soil with magnifying glasses and bug hunting kits. Next, why not give them a handful of seeds to try growing themselves? Sweet potatoes, pumpkins and tomatoes can be good ones to start with.

 

From farm to fork

 

Another way to encourage young farmers is to involve them in the tasty end product. By involving your children in the preparation and cooking of meals, you can foster a love of good quality ingredients without them even realizing it. North Carolina is home to delicious apples, blueberries, peaches and strawberries; why not try growing some of those and encouraging your child to make their own fruit salad? Small fingers may need help with knives, but slightly older children will relish the independence of making their own dishes. This approach may also help fussy eaters to engage more with their meals.

 

 

When it comes to encouraging children to try organic farming, it’s important to remember that a fair amount of it will come naturally.  Kids’ innate curiosity and pride in creating things lend themselves brilliantly to this kind of work. Involving them in the cooking process will also reinforce the pleasure that their efforts have produced. By planting the seeds of interest today, parents, carers and educators are setting their children up for a healthier, tastier and more sustainable tomorrow.

 

Article by Karoline Gore 

Karoline is a freelance writer who enjoys contributing to a rang of publications. She is passionate about natural living and when she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with her husband, her two daughters and their pair of Labradors.

 

 

 

Author: Julie Douglas

Julie is the Marketing & Communications Associate. She is the owner and Clinical herbalist at Wildkrafted Kitchen, a holistic healthcare company in Asheville, NC. Julie is a medicinal herb grower, ethical wild crafter, educator and formulator of internal and external medicines. After graduating with an AA focusing on Photography and Ceramic art, Julie went on to pursue her passion for sustainable small scale agriculture in Washington state where she apprenticed on various organic farms. After discovering their affinity for medicinal herbs, they moved to Asheville to study Holistic Herbalism at the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine. Julie’s main goals are to make alternative healthcare accessible to marginalized communities, decolonizing herbal medicine and being part of mutual aid networks which strengthen and empower the community.