Children gardening

Our son helping in the garden ©Janet AllenOur son helping in the garden a few decades ago

We'll never forget a middle-aged woman we met—very well-educated otherwise—who told us the story of her first garden experience in her whole life. She had planted carrots, and at first she thought she had a successful crop. The seeds sprouted and started to grow. The leaves grew taller and taller. But still no carrots! After waiting for weeks, she finally gave up in disgust and yanked them out of the ground. To her amazement, there were the carrots! (And we're not making this up…)

We didn't want our children to be ignorant of where food comes from! We've had gardens since even before our children were born.

Digging the mulch on our garden path  ©Janet AllenOur oldest grandson digging the mulch on our garden path

When our grandson came to visit, he enjoyed digging in the mulch in the garden path.

Here he's using the Smith & Hawken children's spade we gave his mother thirty years before. Nothing beats a good quality tool! (And it has actually been my own favorite spade all these years.)

Helping water great-grandma's tomato plants ©Janet AllenHelping water great-grandma's tomato plants

Children love to help.

Here he's watering Great Grandma's big tomato plant.

Our grandson's own little garden at home ©Janet Allen Our grandson's own little garden at home

Back at his own home, our grandson grew his own little garden.

Our three-year-old grandson enjoying his own tomatoes ©Janet AllenOur three-year-old grandson

He's really enjoying the fruits of his labors.

Grandson removing ground cherry husks ©Janet AllenOur 2-year-old grandson removing ground cherry husks

On an earlier visit, he helped Grandpa remove the husks from the ground cherries.

He enjoyed doing this, but I imagine a hundred years ago, this kind of help wasn't an optional activity.

I'm glad we don't have old-style child labor (although there are still abuses around the world and even here in the U.S.), but I think it's a good thing for children to help with these small tasks. Even more than a year later, he fondly remembers helping in this way.

Eating a raspberry ©Janet Allen
Our middle grandson harvesting raspberries

And the biggest bonus, in an age where it's difficult to get kids to eat healthy food, is that they're more likely to eat the delicious produce right from the garden—especially if they help grow it themselves.