One of my fondest childhood memories growing up in New York City’s concrete jungle was gardening with my mom, dad and brother Hal.
Every summer we would embark on a small grassy knoll near our high rise low rent project equipped with jugs of water, garden tools and seeds. Each of us would busily plant what we liked. Me, I like planting tomatoes, squash and carrots. I remember the feel of cool soil in my hands, my dad pulling weeds while mom potted some annuals to spread out throughout the garden. They taught us how to share, plant in a straight line and where to walk. You might call it gardening etiquette.
We learned the consequences of good (or poor) care: watering, weeding and cultivating. I remember learning the art of patience in the garden. We had to wait for nature to take its course. While I know God had a hand in turning those seeds into a colorful palette of vegetables and flowers, when those first sprouts broke through the earth, I felt powerful and accomplished. Most kids today grow up in the city where there is little or no space for a garden. That’s why you have to become creative like my parents. If there’s no patch of green near you, join a community garden or plant an herb garden in your window seal.
It was in those summer gardens, I learned to care for the earth’s resources growing one’s own food expands a young person's choice of foods, a key to good nutrition. There was something very special about pulling the first carrot from the earth, brushing it off and eating it. If you grow up on home-grown and homemade food, you can taste the difference. Maybe that’s why I still love carrots. Whether you are an accomplished gardener or a novice, gardening with children is your chance to partner with Mother Nature to make magic. Don't worry about achieving horticultural perfection. Just dig in and grow something beautiful or good to eat. Your garden is your treasure chest; you and your young gardener—exploring together—can discover its priceless bounty for an afternoon's delight or for a lifetime.
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