Planting a Family Garden - Increasing Fruit And Vegetable Eating For Healthier Kids

Do you and your kids reach for fruits and vegetables? Growing a garden can help to make that happen!

Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Intake

vegetable gardenAccording to the WHO, both children and adults consume inadequate fruits and vegetables to promote good health. The consumption of fruits and vegetables is protective against many disease conditions as well as helps to promote a healthy weight. One way to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables is to improve attitudes towards healthy foods. The National Gardening Association has highlighted studies showing that gardening is one of the best ways to influence kid's acceptance of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Using A Small Space

One great thing about gardening is you do not need much space at all. You can start a garden in pots as well. When I lived in an apartment I grew tomatoes on my deck, those were some of the best tomatoes I have grown.

In our small yard I have created an area for a raised bed garden. It does take up a chunk of my yard, but it is worth it when my kids help me plant and I get to see their excitement when the fresh foods start to pop. I remember one summer when we had an abundance of cherry tomatoes, I could not stop my kids from eating them off the vine. What a great problem to have!

Be Creative

Each year I try something new. Sometimes with success, other times not so much. I have tried strawberries and carrots that didn't work well in my space. I have had great success with lettuce, peppers and herbs. Some years are better than others in the amount we grow and how much the animals eat before we get there. But at least part of the fun is seeing what comes up - it is great for me and for my kids.

Consider what foods your family likes to eat and start with those options. Second, decide what you might like to try. Just as it is beneficial to offer kids new foods at the table to promote healthy eating habits, growing something new can have the same great benefits.

Make A Plan

Decide how much space you want to use and lay out where you will want the plants in that space. Be sure to allow enough space for each plant to grow. I have made the mistake of underestimating how much space some plants require, like squash, and struggled with it taking over the garden. This also will help you decide what you should grow when you see how much space each plant will need.

Then consider if you would like to plant from seed or from a starter plant. Depending on the length of your growing season, a small or even larger starter plant can ensure you can harvest some foods during the summer and early fall. Though it costs more money than seeds, in Minnesota I prefer to purchase starter plants to speed along the process.

You don't have to be a master gardener to take a bit of space and try something. It is a great way to enjoy nature (also good for your health), spend time with your kids and encourage both you and your kids to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables. The Daily Green is a good resource for more information on getting started.

Happy gardening!

Lynda Enright

Lynda Enright, MS, RD, CLT is certified as a Wellness Coach and LEAP Therapist who partners with women who want to look and feel amazing by helping them lose weight and reduce inflammation which can cause fatigue, bloating, acid reflux, congestion, brain fog or achy joints.

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