On this first day of fall, my family spent the morning planting seeds in a community garden.
Multiple times a month I receive “Ask Holly” queries asking how to get children to eat (and enjoy) vegetables. In our experience, when children are an active part in the preparation of a meal, they are much more likely to eat it.
Even more excitement arises when they participate in growing the food. Today’s time sowing seeds at the garden was exactly as I had pictured it.
I loved hearing my son’s questions about how the seeds turn into plants and watching the delight in his eyes as he glimpsed a roly-poly. I loved explaining to him that plants need sunlight, just like we do, to thrive. Out in the crisp fall air I remembered a beautiful poem I read this week which ends,
“…today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,
—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.”
A thought occurred to my 4 year old this morning as we were on our way to the garden- “hey mom, do my bones get bigger inside my body and that’s what makes me grow?” Yes, that’s part of it. “Well how do my bones get bigger?” I explained to him that his cells use fuel—interrupted with, “hey, just like a car uses fuel!”—Yes, sweetie, just like a car uses fuel, our body needs fuel to grow. And in the same way a car’s fuel is gasoline, our fuel is good food and water—interrupted with, “my fuel is chocolate milk!” — …one can see how these sweet conversations fuel my spirit throughout the day.
If given the option, my two wild and amazing boys would literally jump off the furniture the entire time we are indoors, yet magic happens the minute we step outside. There is a stillness and peace that overcomes them as if to prove the point that out there is where they belong. As Richard Louv claims in his book Last Child in the Woods, children today suffer from nature deficit disorder. Time outside would cure many of the ailments relating to attention and hyperactivity in the lives of our modern children.
My hope is that taking part in a community garden will give us nourishment not only from the food we grow, but also our time in nature and other like-minded people. The American Community Gardening Association asserts that “community gardening improves people’s quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education.” To find a community garden near you, visit the Local Harvest website.
And since my brain is 70% song lyrics, I couldn’t possibly have all of this seed sowing talk and not quote A Tears For Fears song that says it all:
“Anything is possible when you’re sowing the seeds of love.”