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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Brian

If They Grow It, They Will Eat It - 3 Tips For Pre-School Edible Gardens

Children love gardening,  Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Have you ever asked a preschooler where food comes from? If you have, they probably told you that it comes from the grocery store. This is their world. In their minds, the produce section grows apples and bananas, and the freezer section grows chicken nuggets. Unless you happen to live in a place where you have a garden, why would they think otherwise?

Nutrition is a good thing to teach. You can point to a carrot or a bunch of grapes, and they will tell you what it is. Many children have never tasted the difference between sweet peas grown in a garden and those “grown” in a can.

Sometimes pictures are not enough

Many preschools across the nation are stepping forward to change this. They are helping children grow their own gardens. These lucky children will learn what it means to plant a seed, care for the plant, and be rewarded with fruit and vegetables. They will learn to appreciate how much work goes into planting, and how exciting the harvest is.

Getting started and get excited

Tip one: Each child will need their own set of child-size gardening tools, including watering cans.

●You will need the help of a few adult volunteers to help prepare the land and to walk the children through the process.

●You will need generous amounts of freshly harvested seed.

●You will need patience and knowledge of what grows best in your area.

●You will need to make this a fun adventure. Talk about the harvest that will come up just because of them. Have a harvest party and allow every child to take a bite of everything.

Tip two: host a party for their parents to come to a garden party. Let the kids serve their loved one.

Prepare a buffet table. Let the children help wash the food. The adults will cut the food, but wearing kitchen gloves the children can help place toothpicks in the food, place out small paper plates and napkins. Before the parents arrive ask the children line up to take one bite of each food.

Make sure the volunteers are included.

Each child can stand behind the table and tell the parents something they learned. Here are a few points you can help them with:

“This is a strawberry. It grows in a patch on the ground.”

“This is a tomato. It grows on a vine, and you pull it off when it is red.”

“This is a carrot. The leaves grow on the ground, and you have to pull it up to find the carrot.”

Tip three: give each child a basket to take one or two of each fruit or vegetable to give to their guest.

Better yet, send the basket home with the child.

Bonus tip: Kids take pride in learning and having something they can show that they did. They will be more willing to try new foods when they helped grow them. Each child should be given a certificate awarding the honor of being a junior farmer. Give them a lot of praise. Let them know, they have made food from a little seed and most children have never done that.

If this project goes well, carry it on. Small herb plants are easy to grow and can be grown inside the class. By the end of the year, your student will have a high self-esteem and pride because of what he or she can do.

Your project may produce more than you expected. Please do not let that waste in the fields. Other staff will probably finish it. Whatever is left, donate to a food bank or to someone in need.

For more information about seeds, visit


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