Why we make this organic garden grow

Little gardeners
We are just now getting our little garden started again for this year. We have been lucky to not have the horrific weather that has been affecting so much of the country lately, but we have also not had the best gardening-with-small-children weather.

Let’s face it, I am not about to get out and work in the yard in the rain and the cold.

We are amateur gardeners at best. Some of us like to dig in the dirt and feel the mud oozing through our fingers. Some of us like to learn about the plants. Some of us like to eat. We all enjoy the garden.


Our garden is not about growing and saving for the winter -not yet anyway. Our garden is not about reducing our grocery bills, although that would be a nice benefit. Our garden isn’t even about a love of gardening, although if we all learn a bit more of that along the way, it would be a good thing.

We have a garden to simply teach our children about growing and caring for plants, understanding that food comes from hard work, fortunate weather, and the earth – whether that is in our own backyard, the local farm, or a large cooperative of farms farther removed from our daily lives. Food does not come from the store. Let me rephrase, food does not originate at the store.

We have an organic garden so our children can run barefoot in the yard, in the dirt and in the grass. So they can stand in the raspberry bushes and pluck the juicy berries with muddy little fingers and enjoy the sun-ripened goodness right then and there without a thought that they should not.

Muddy hands eating berries

We have a garden because of then I can hear my 7 year old tell my 5 year old in his knowing voice that the tomatoes that we grow in our garden taste so much better than the ones that we get from the store. It amazes me to hear two boys that ordinarily would not willingly eat tomatoes become excited about the tomato plants that we have growing out back and look forward to the fruit they will bear.

We have a garden to try vegetables that might otherwise be passed over in the store or varieties that are simply not available there. I might not love Brussels sprouts, but we are going to grow them and I’ll eat them! They might not love broccoli, but we are going to grow it and they’ll try it. Planting heirloom varieties you don’t see everywhere is fun and exciting and lends itself to more adventurous eating on all of our parts.

We have a garden to experience it in all the triumphs and failures, in all the deliciousness of the fruits of their labor and the healthfulness of the vegetables we grow despite how we may really feel about them, the patience and work, the learning and careful tending. There are life lessons to be learned here and I hope to let my children find them as they’re growing.

Tell me about your garden! Why do you have one and what do you grow?


Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.
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Why we make this organic garden grow — 40 Comments

  1. Pingback: Growing In The Outdoors: Plants And People | Diary of a First Child

  2. Pingback: 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World

  3. Pingback: The Tradition of Gardening | lovenotesmama

  4. Pingback: School’s In at the Farmer’s Market | Monkey Butt Junction

  5. Pingback: Teaching Garden Etiquette to the Locusts | Natural Parents Network

  6. That is beautiful. I have the same feelings — sometimes a twinge of regret or guilt that our garden doesn’t do those things, like give us produce to store away all winter (not that we have anywhere to store it in our little condo!), or cost sooo much less than produce we can buy (because, all things considered, it doesn’t!) — but I just really enjoy the whole act of growing food. And even when my son’s kind of hesitant about jumping in, I like that it’s being presented to him as matter of fact — that we grow food, that it’s interesting and exciting and mundane all at the same time. And, yes, I hope it does inspire me to eat some veggies I otherwise wouldn’t. :)

  7. Pingback: Growing Outside « The Practical Dilettante

  8. How lovely is the chat about tomatoes? We are renting and just moved to this house. We don’t have a veggies and fruits as such, but we are planting flowers and a few herbs, strawberries and tomotoes in pots. My daughter is very excited about them.

  9. I wish we could cultivate berries here… but we’ll have to do with the banana’s and papaya’s. I love my daughter’s marvel when she’s in the garden too, the way she is naturally compelled to help and find bugs and pull weeds and sprinkle water. It’s important to maintain that connection to nature, like you say

  10. Pingback: Crunchy Chewy Mama » Blog Archive » Unfolding into nature

  11. Pingback: Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! « Intrepid Murmurings

  12. Pingback: Little Gardener « Rosmarinus Officinalis

  13. Your 7 year old is right. Homegrown tomatoes are so much better!! We garden for the exact same reasons you described. But, mainly, I want my kids to know that food doesn’t come straight from the store and that love and hardwork makes vegetables taste even better :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. What a great perspective! I totally agree that the benefits of a garden go way beyond the obvious.

    I remember picking whatever I could find outside when I was little and pretending to make things with it (because usually it wasn’t edible since there wasn’t a garden in our back yard). I also remember eating wild blackberries and raspberries on my aunt and uncle’s farm.

    I think I would have eaten even more vegetables as a child if they had grown in our garden (namely carrots, which I always “hated” and recently realized I love fresh)!

  15. I think I have a garden because I’m trying to channel Ma in the Little House on the Prairie books. Now there’s a woman who knew about growing vegetables!

    If only my children would show more interest in eating vegetables!

  16. Pingback: Becoming Green - Hey Red {365} - Hey Red {365}

  17. Pingback: Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors without a Garden | LivingMontessoriNow.com

  18. Pingback: Condo Kid turns Composter and Plastic Police | Cloth Diapering Mama

  19. You know, when I started my first garden, I had these grandiose plans of reducing food bills, eating home grown (fresh and canned) all year round, etc. etc. Now I’m more in line with what you’ve written here – it’s about sharing time outside with my family, teaching Kieran where food comes from, and enjoying the dirt. Thank you for sharing your story!

  20. This made me smile all the way through. Like Dionna, I had grandiose plans, and we’ve even gone so far as to take veggies to market… but really, we mostly grow so that we do, whether it makes sense financially or not. It’s a matter of education, and priorities, and acknowledging how important food is in the world and life. Although right this minute, I’m looking forward to my first asparagus. Ever. After 5 attempts! (Can you tell I’m excited?)

    Lovely post!

  21. Pingback: How Not to Grow « Wild Parenting

  22. This will be my first garden and I am so excited. One half is a traditional veggie garden with the other side being a medicine wheel garden (these are absolutely beautiful – check out The Medicine Wheel Garden-Creating Sacred Space by Kavasch). The rest of my garden will be au natural scattered over 10 acres – beans growing on the fenceline – garlic, peppers, etc. growing in the terrace of a 2-tier rock wall and fruit trees, willow, cat-tails scattered throughout. Will be working with indiginous plants as much as possible. Not only are the people who live here happy but so is the land that we share!

  23. Great post. I will share this to my eldest, 11 y.o. who absolutely loves not only loves gardening but reading!

    We do not have a garden where we are now here in the Netherlands, only a balcony where we can have the flowers of the season.

    But the girl’s fraternal grandmother has a house, in South Germany, where they spend a lot of school holiday breaks; it has a huge garden that grows different vegetables, different flowers all throughout the different seasons, and fruit bearing trees.

    Hopefully, we will find a home here soon with a front and a backgarden because I find it avery positive influence in the growth of children to experience nature with all their senses.

  24. Pingback: April Showers Bring May PRODUCE

  25. Hi Brenna, I really enjoyed reading your post on why we make this organic garden grow well done. I myself would share the same values for I have two little ones as well, and grew up on a farm learning the real values of gardening.

    I think that it is very important to teach our children all the fundamentals of gardening as well a healthier way of life.

    Amazing site you have keep up the great work :-)

  26. Pingback: Garden Day | Vibrant Wanderings

  27. Pingback: Kids in the Kitchen - teaching healthy food choices |

  28. My children have certainly missed out on gardening…it is truly one of life’s simple pleasures. This made me smile all the way through.
    Manuela Berry recently posted..Cancer Tips

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  33. Pingback: How Does Your Garden Grow? | The Artful Mama

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  35. Pingback: Cultivating Abundance - Dreaming Aloud

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