The Trick to Getting Kids to Eat Their Veggies Is Easier Than You Think

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Boy holding a bunch of carrots

What kid doesn’t like to play in the dirt? I don’t know about you, but playing in the dirt was high on my priority list when I was a kid. In fact, one of my favorite childhood memories was helping my grandparents harvest fruits and vegetables from their backyard garden. Apples especially, because my grandmother and I would make homemade applesauce together every year in her kitchen.

Every summer my grandmother would let me plant a packet or two of seeds, and it was my job to keep that particular patch of vegetables weeded and watered. My grandparents were pretty clever if you ask me because not only did my love of gardening start in their backyard, but so did my love for fresh, homegrown food.

Boy holding bean seeds

According to a University of Colorado at Denver fact sheet on children and gardening, “children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables,” so getting kids get involved in the whole gardening process (choosing what vegetables to grow, digging, planting and harvesting) makes them more likely to try new things. The key is to get children to grow what you know they already love to eat. The fact sheet also cited a study of third to fifth graders who participated in a one-year gardening program, stating the students “showed a significant increase in self-understanding, interpersonal relationship skills, and ability to work in groups compared to nonparticipating students.”

Planting a bean seed

Popular Vegetable Seeds for Kids

  • Beans (choose pole varieties and make a bean teepee).
  • Peas (sugar snap peas are best for little ones because the whole pod is edible).
  • Carrots (try planting purple carrots).
  • Corn (grow some to eat, and some to dry for popcorn).
  • Tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are great for little hands).
  • Pumpkins (big, small or white, they’re all fun to grow).
  • Sunflowers (great for cut flowers and for harvesting sunflower seeds).

Boy smiling while gardening

Mavis’ Tips for Making Your Kids Love Gardening

  • Let kids pick their own seeds.
  • Have kids save their yogurt containers, or water bottles and use them as planters.
  • Give kids their own set of tools (dollar stores sell them in the summer).
  • Let them get dirty (it’s the best part if you ask me).
  • Help them build a bean teepee.
  • Set up a table at the end of your driveway and let your kiddos sell their extra produce or give it away to their friends and neighbors.

Kids + seeds + dirt = fruit and vegetable fans for life.

How about you? Do you have any fond memories of gardening from your childhood? Did you have a favorite vegetable you loved to grow every year?

Mavis wants to know!

Keep calm and garden on.

All photos courtesy of Mavis Butterfield


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