Teaching youth to grow food a head start to a healthy lifestyle | Commentary

Back in the Caribbean many families were able to live a successful and sustainable lifestyle because of their backyard vegetable garden. The entire family had a role to play. Most children for instance, helped to ensure that the callaloo (spinach-like plant) crop was bountiful. How did they accomplish this goal? Children quickly learned how to identify parasites on the leaves and removed them right away. They recognized when the plant is ready to be reaped. Oh! And what a feeling of satisfaction and pride for the family, when dinner consisted of a fruit or vegetable from their own garden.

Fast forward to today. In this society a gardening activity would probably be the last thing on the minds of most children since they prefer to play video games or watch television. But once you get them involved in the process, they are interested. So many lessons have been taught in the garden even though the “teacher parent” may not be aware of it.

Experts have studied the benefits gardening has on children. The Mommy University magazine for instance issued an article on this very topic. The author brought to light the fact gardening engages all of the children’s senses. Children are happy when their hands are in the soil planting seeds or seedlings. As the plants progress children admire the bright colors of flowering plants. They love to reap the bounties of the garden and enjoy the wonderful flowery smells not to mention the scientific concepts that surround the gardening activity.

I remember when we first moved into our new home, the yard was very bare, no hedges, no flowers, no trees, just plain-old crab grass. I was very ambitious in what I wanted to do to create a beautiful garden and a serene seating area. I scoped out the different kinds of evergreen trees and other foliage that had hues of burgundy and green that I wanted…

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