Today, kids are technologically addicted and nature deprived. Kids can plant a healthy life by growing an organic raised bed garden in a patio, school, or community garden. The girl in the picture loves her school garden and is off to water her adopted peach tree. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization health statistics show that we are killing ourselves with processed, fake, refined pseudo foods, filled with chemicals and hormones. Unfortunately, healthcare education, nutrition conferences, and continuing education courses for physicians are sponsored by big food companies, fast food chains, and big pharmaceutical companies. Instead of recommending an organic whole food diet, patients are given more prescriptions. Kids can be gardeners in their life by weeding out unhealthy fake foods and filling their plates with organic food from the garden.
Kids find peace and happiness growing their organic veggies. Kids can weed out thoughts about the frustrations in their life and plant the joy they find in their garden, grateful for the beauty and abundance they are creating. Gardening is a stress reducer as flowers waft the air with aromatherapy and microbes in the soil release endorphins. In the garden, kids develop a stronger immune system, exercise all major muscle groups, soak up Sunshine Vitamin D, and breathe fresh air. Learning to care for nature, kids are more likely to care for others and the environment in which they live. Learning to cook what they grow and enjoy eating organic fruit, veggies, and whole grains creates healthy happy kids.
Instead of starting with a recipe and gathering the ingredients, kids that grow an organic veggie garden in containers on the patio or in a school or community garden, can start with their harvest from the garden and look for a recipe that goes with their ingredients. The healthiest, best tasting ingredients for any recipe are local, organic, and in season produce. Schools with Farm to School programs receive in season produce from local farms for their cooking classes and lunch programs. Families can visit the Farmer’s Market for local organic ingredients. Local farmers across the country offer families weekly or bi-weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) programs with boxes of fresh organic fruits, veggies, and herbs freshly harvested. With a healthy pantry full of organic whole grains, beans, herbs, nuts, and spices, kids can be creative with the produce they harvest and make delicious healthy meals. Easy meals for kids to prepare with a variety of just picked veggies are salads, pastas, soups, and wraps. The secret to creating delicious dishes is the sauce. For example, the harvest includes Roma tomatoes that kids can make into a fabulous tomato sauce for pasta, rice, and stuffed peppers. Kids can make extra sauce, whether it is salad dressing, pesto, peanut, tomato, chipotle, or curry sauce, and freeze it for later. When kids cook their harvest, they feel an intimate connection to nature and their community.
Kids can grow a tropical guava tree from South America in Southern California, Hawaii, and Florida. This guava tree is growing in a school garden in Camarillo, California. There are many types of containers available to plant a lovely evergreen guava tree on the patio in full sun or partial shade especially in the afternoon. Guava trees are drought tolerant. Kids can apply a ridge of thick mulch around the base of the tree to retain water and water the roots of the tree early in the morning. However, for good fruit quality and taste, kids can install a drip watering system with a timer for regular water. Guava trees have wide white flowers that bloom in the spring and attract hummingbirds and honeybees as pollinators, producing a heavier crop when cross-pollinated. Guava fruits ripen from late summer into fall with green-yellow skin and pink- yellow flesh and a tasty tart flavor. Kids can grow guava fruit without much trouble by washing away any ants on the tree. Kids need to prune continuously to head back new growth to induce branching and to keep the tree under 6 feet. This will stimulate new growth and inspire flowers and fruit. With pruning and protection during a frost, guava trees can have fruit all year long.
Kids can grow apple trees in the school garden, the backyard, or in a planter box of rich organic soil on the patio by choosing a variety and dwarf rootstock that is hardy in their climate. Apples are nature packed for the perfect energy rich, on the go snacks for kids. Kids can eat the skin of an organic apple as the apple skin contains a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells and lowers cholesterol. Kids can grow apples from seeds, but the apples may be different from the one planted. Instead, a branch from a tree that makes one kind of apples is joined or grafted onto the trunk of a small tree that already has roots. The two grow together and produce the same kind of apple every year. Dwarf apple trees grow 5 to 8 feet tall and wide and need regular watering. Kids can apply a ridge of thick mulch around the base of the tree to retain water and water the roots of the tree early in the morning. Kids can under plant polycultures of flowers, herbs, and veggies to attract beneficial insects and repel pests.
To grow fruit, apples need to grow eight years, to experience cold weather in the winter, and to cross pollinate with another apple tree. In the middle of winter the apple tree has no leaves, but by spring little pink buds start to grow among young green leaves. Soon the apple blossom makes yellow pollen and a sweet smell that bees love. The bees carry the pollen flower to flower pollinating the trees. In the center of the apple blossom a tiny new apple starts to grow. In the summer the apples grow big, sweet, and red, and in the early fall the apples are ready to pick. Kids can grow an apple tree and improve the environment, create a beautiful landscape, and produce delicious, healthy food. A fall harvest of organic home grown apples is a Super Food snack for kids.
When kids plant their own organic container food garden on the patio, they will eat what they grow. Kids can grow a pizza garden in a raised bed or fruit trees in large pots. Urban gardens are springing up between strip malls and fast food places inspiring kids around the country to grow their own food. Community gardens are making a healthy difference as an inexpensive plot can produce food for the whole family. Healthy lunch boxes start with the organic ingredients from those gardens. Some schools, like Santa Paula High School, have local farms deliver fresh organic produce and local chefs working with students to create a healthy menu. But many schools still have processed, low nutrient meals provided by large food processing corporations. For a healthier lunch, kids can pack salads, sandwiches, and leftovers in insulated lunch boxes with reusable food containers that are BPA, PVC, and phthalate free, and dishwasher safe. Kids can find insulated stainless steel thermos, stainless steel utensils, and ice packs to create healthy meals they enjoy. Stainless steel and plastic systems are available with lots of sizes and shapes for dips, soups, sauces, puddings, and delicate foods. Kids can keep food warm by pouring boiling water into their thermos before filling it with soup or putting it in the freezer to keep their pudding cold. When kids grow an organic veggie garden, they can pack fresh, healthy lunches in reusable containers.
Families can make local food choices that are healthy for people and for Earth. The Food Justice Movement encompasses communities around the world exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food which is organically grown locally while caring for the land, workers, and animals. Kids love to go to the Farmers’ Market and taste organic food that has just been picked. Some families buy a share in a Community Supported Agriculture program and get a box of fresh produce from their local farm every week. Many schools are serving healthy locally grown food with the Farm to School programs, and last year there was a 105% increase in local food to schools.
People like Erynn Smith, pictured here at the Abundant Table Spring at the Farm event, are working as farm educators, providing organic farming, environment, and nutrition education to the community, local schools, and politicians across the country. Community Gardens are becoming more and more popular as people want to eat organic food grown without toxic chemicals. Kids can grow an organic container veggie garden on the patio or the roof to bring healthy food to the table. The local food choices that families make can cut down on the use of fossil fuels and chemicals that harm the people and planet. Kids can learn to respect and honor the land using organic growing techniques that preserve our resources.
CSA projects are seeking creative ways to balance financial support for their farmers by including members that pay for their share by working as farm staff. CSA food is donated to food pantries and soup kitchens, and many are connected with local meals on wheels, senior centers, and emergency shelters. CSA also partners with churches to get fresh food to the hungry. Some food banks are starting their own farms and teaching lower income families how to grow fresh produce. These farms foster responsible stewardship of the land by using exclusively organic methods and encourage personal involvement in the farm. On a farm run with ecological methods, ugly looking food and produce with bad spots can still be used to feed the hungry, the livestock, and the compost pile. Kids can make a difference by encouraging their parents to make local food choices, share in their local farm, and grow an organic container garden.
Kids can cut back on litter in the land fills and ocean by using sustainable school supplies. Kids can use recycled paper that doesn’t use any new trees. Kids can pack their lunch box with reusable containers and use organic cotton back packs. A plastic shopping bag can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Paper bags lunches generate 67 pounds of waste by the end of the school year. Kids’ lunch trash is second only to office paper as the leading source of school waste. Every year 2.7 billion juice boxes end up in the landfill. The average American consumes double what was bought 50 years ago. Because plastic is made from oil, kids can recycle one plastic bottle and conserve enough energy to light a 60 watt bulb for up to six hours. Instead of using juice boxes or plastic bottles, kids can get a reusable stainless steel thermos that can be filled with a cold drink or a hot soup. Kids like an insulated lunch bag with a cold pack that keeps food fresh with individual containers that keeps crispy items like organic veggies separate from moist like a hummus dip. Kids can grow an organic veggie garden instead of a lawn and fill their lunch boxes with the healthiest best tasting food. Fruits and veggies can be grown in containers on the balcony, patio, or windowsill. Homemade snacks, drinks, and sandwiches save on trash, transportation, and doctor bills. Kids can help create a greener world by remembering to reduce, reuse, and recycle.