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.
Kids that grow an organic container veggie garden have access to the healthiest food on the planet. Kids with access to a salad bar for school lunch eat three times more fruits and veggies, the magic secret for all around health. With farm to school programs, kids can eat fresh organic locally sourced meals. Packaged, processed foods for kids are often calorie-loaded with salts, sugars, and fats to stimulate the brain to release endorphins, which produce a sense of euphoria. Research shows that eating these foods produces effects like those that come from addictive drugs, and creates the desire to eat more to repeat the feel good experience. Even some so called healthy foods are filled with chemicals and kids need to check for the organic label and read the ingredient lists. Processed foods contain unpronounceable ingredients added to preserve, thicken, stabilize color, sweeten, and flavor food that is no longer whole. Fortunately, when kids learn to cook what they grow, their taste buds change and they soon prefer the whole foods. Growing an organic garden, they are excited to try new veggies, which taste more delicious and are definitely healthier than the chemically treated, genetically modified conventional produce which has been treated with inorganic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. When kids cook from the garden, they prefer their own dishes to fast food restaurants and processed foods and become the hit of the party cooking for their friends and families.
A vibrant garden on the grounds of a school can flourish when volunteers and community members join teachers and students to design, plan, tend, and harvest the bounty, bringing fresh organic produce to school meals. Schools can apply for school food garden grants from Whole Foods, Annie’s Homegrown, Western Growers Foundation, and National Gardening Association. With a grant from Whole Foods, Gardening Squared (gardening2.com) installed certified sustainable redwood raised beds at Redwood Middle School, pictured here, where the V-shaped garden bed is for Vikings, the school’s mascot. When kids learn to grow and prepare their own food, they learn life skills, gain confidence and self sufficiency, and experience the natural world. Picking produce from the garden, preparing a meal, and eating the feast awakens in kids a sense of connection to all life. In California, crops can be grown year around, but the majority of the garden chores continue through the summer when schools are closed. Schools across the county have solved this problem by having garden parties several times a month where kids, parents, and grandparents gather. After the workday of garden chores, there is music, cooking, feasts, and fun for all. School gardens need a dedicated Garden Caretaker and a staff of loyal volunteers, like from the local college, to keep the garden growing. Throughout the year on special afternoons and weekends, the garden is the place where the school community gathers with students, parents, grandparents, friends, and volunteers to compost, plant, weed, and water and then celebrate with food and music in the abundant garden.