Teach Your Children Well: A Gardener’s Thoughts on Earth Day…

Guest post by Michaela from The Gardener’s Eden (@MichaelainEden)

As gardeners, most of us consider ourselves environmentally minded, and for us, every day is Earth Day. But, it’s important to remember that gardening —in and of itself—  is an unnatural act. When we work the soil and sow seed, fertilize and water, thin plants and harvest, we are manipulating the natural world. Agriculture is a human activity, and the end-results of irresponsible gardening and farming are as detrimental to earth as many other, more obviously harmful human activities.

Teaching future generations how to protect and preserve the environment by growing food organically and living sustainably, is one of the most important things we can do for our planet.  It benefits us and it benefits our planet.

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ in my garden

Help the children in your life to become active and interested in learning how to grow their own food, organically.

Even the simplest gardening projects —indoors and out— can help build positive experiences and teach skills to last a lifetime. Take the time to teach little green thumbs about the diversity of our ecosystem and how to identify and respect the plants, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and other creatures all around us.

Need some new garden projects and ideas for children? Books like The Family Kitchen Garden, Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots and The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Gardening with Children are a great place to start.

More children’s gardening book recommendations can be found on the Gardener’s Eden blog ; where I’ve listed some of the best titles-in-print for teaching children about the joy of gardening organically. Although this blog is geared toward adults, throughout the growing season, you will find articles, projects and links on this blog worth sharing with children. In addition, you will always find online resources linked on the site; including bird & insect identification sites, educational programs, non-profit environmental organizations, and more.  Have a look around, and feel free to recommend great resources for gardening with children, that you have found and would like to share!

Sowing the Seeds of Our Future – Photo ⓒ Tim Geiss

Happy Earth Day! Celebrate by helping the next generation learn to garden organically, responsibly and sustainably.

Special thanks to Tim Geiss for permission to use the beautiful photographs of his daughter Dharma, taken especially for The Gardener’s Eden.

A Note from The Honeybee Conservancy:

With a packet of seeds, you can gift your child with a healthy and environmentally friendly activity that can last a lifetime.  It can provide them with the delight of working the soil, watching their plants sprout, grow and bear flower and/or fruit.  It can fill their summer hours and provide sustenance that is physical and emotional.

For many children, the excitement about gardening in their own yard begins with a book.  Perhaps the beloved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which so many have had read to them as a bedtime story or in a reading circle in early grade school  The passion for gardening may build as they plant a small number of flower seeds in a discarded cardboard egg carton.  Encourage a child’s love for gardening. For more information on how to garden with children, visit Kidsgardening.org, a resource of the National Gardening Association that provides content and resources specifically designed for use with children .