But after I’d been away from home for a least a decade, I started craving the taste of fresh squash, okra, tomatoes. I came home one summer while the cucumbers were ripe so my mom could teach me to make my own dill pickles. And my husband, a city boy who’d been dying to get to the country all his life, eventually talked me into moving back to my hometown in late 2005. The next spring, he promptly planted a vegetable garden, which has gotten bigger every year.
For the past three years, we’ve been learning to grow and preserve food while raising our kids, who are now two and four. And it seems to me that growing up with a garden was actually a good thing after all. It taught me the value of hard work (although my brothers might protest that they did a lot more of the hard work than I did, and they would be right). It taught me what real food tastes like — and it doesn’t taste like frozen corn dogs or even the barely-red tomatoes you can buy at the store in January. It taught me a lot about how the world works and the incredible value in a plot of dirt. They’re lessons I want my own kids to learn as well, hands-on.
While our family certainly doesn’t eat perfectly (yes, my kids have had a few corn dogs and more chicken nuggets than I care to admit), we’ve found that growing some of our own food and letting the kids get involved has already broadened their horizons. They’re more interested in eating the vegetables they picked themselves, and they’re even able to carry on intelligent conversations about the basic science of growing things. As more and more families are choosing to eat locally and grow some of their own food, we’re all learning the benefits of this lifestyle go beyond nutrition.
This blog chronicles my own family’s experiences in raising kids and crops at the same time, as well as news and comment about food gardening and related topics from around the world. In addition to being a mother and a blogger, I’m also a full-time freelance writer for magazines, Web sites and corporations. More info about my work is available at www.nancyjackson.com.
I’d love to hear how you’re incorporating fresh food and gardening into your kids’ lives, and I welcome comments and suggestions for the blog. Thanks for reading!