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Growing Your Own Food as a Family

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The Family Dinner book is all about, “Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at at time.”

There is no denying that. Preparing and sharing a meal is a great way for a family to bond and to instill certain values in our kids.

What I want to discuss is taking it back a few steps to the growing aspect of it as well and getting the kids and family involved in that.

It’s hard enough for most parents to find the time to preparing meals with their kids, now I’m talking about growing it too?!?

Why not include the kids and make it a family experience?

This is what families and communities have done historically throughout time. In the past 100 or so years is when this has all changed. Did you know that the school year is based on the agricultural calendar? The reason kids have summer break was to help the family take care of the harvest.

Preparing, sharing and eating the meals are the final steps in the process. The first ones are planting, growing, tending to and harvesting.

These days most of us, adults included, don’t have an idea as to where our food is coming from or what’s happened to it before it’s reached our tables. We do know that it’s readily accessible to us nearly 24/7 at the local supermarket though.

As the mission of this site says, meals are a way to connect with your kids, so let’s add the growing aspect to it as well. It will help to bring a real appreciation for everything that’s involved in getting it to our dinner tables.

I’m not expecting or implying that we all go out and totally re-landscape our yards or live off the land. Just grow one vegetable or herb and it will make a difference.

There are a few projects that you can do as a family to keep everyone involved, costs low all while spending more quality family time together.

Now let’s get into where to begin.

What should you grow. You can have a family discussion and come to a decision. Have everyone say what they’d like to grow and vote on it as a family.
What soil to use. Your local nursery, health food or hydroponic stores are great resources. Just let them know that you don’t want any chemicals or synthetics in it.

Seed starting. For kids and adults this can be exciting. You can opt for some seed starting supplies or you can reuse some items around your house. You just need toilet paper rolls, potting soil and your seeds. Here’s a video of how to use toilet paper rolls as a seed starter pot.

After your seeds are planted, keep them in a sunny windowsill and make sure they stay damp. Depending on the seed, after a week sprouts should evelop and peek their way through the soil. This should keep you and the kids entertained.

What to plant in. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have a huge backyard or a backyard at all. A porch, patio, fire escape or balcony are all good place for you to grow your own food. You’ll just have to use containers.

I’ve found that self-watering containers work great and use them on my balcony garden in Los Angeles.

Kids can be get involved in the process by having them decorate the containers.

Tending to the garden. There are a few routine tasks that will need to be performed that you can divide up as a family. These will include watering, checking for bugs and taking care of the plant. You can keep a diary and pictures of your weekly progress to chart growth to show how garden is doing.

Harvesting and preparing. After the plants are ready to be harvested, it’s time to get ready for the meal. You’ll have to decide how you want to prepare it as a family.

Sharing. This is where it all comes together and becomes totally worth it. It’s the reason that you are on this site to begin with, so I won’t have to say much about it. You know very well that if you made a salad for dinner and the parsley was the only ingredient that you grew,  you are going to brag about it. There is nothing wrong with that.

Growing your own food as a family, takes that connection of preparing a meal a level deeper. There is that something special that will be in this meal that you won’t get in other meals – your family’s love, sweat and pride will shine through and it will show in the food. You and the kids will be bragging how you grew part of the meal.

Like I said, there isn’t the expectation to rip out your lawn and plant a vegetable garden. Just put a container out on the porch or on the balcony. It takes us growing that one plant to make a difference in our lives. The act will help to connect with your kids even more and bring  a new appreciation for your food.

What is your family going to start growing?

 

Through his site Urban Organic Gardener and social media, Mike Lieberman inspires and empowers people to start growing their own food and reconnect with their food source. Lieberman believes that growing just one herb or vegetable will make a difference. It will help to cut back the intensive resources that go into the production and transport of food to our plates. It will also help us to re-establish our connection with food that we’ve lost over the past few years. We are humans. We grow food. Connect with Mike at UrbanOrganicGardener.com, Twitter or Facebook.

 

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