Why Your Kids Need To Grow A Tomato

Bossy’s spring madness takes form in daydreaming about a veggie garden.  Last year, I coughed up a good chunk of money to have a contractor build me an enclosed space to keep the bunnies, squirrels, groundhogs and raccoons out.  As I peak at it from my writing spot, watching it defrost, I feel a sense of calm come over me.

From May to early October, it is my happy place.  But I also have learned it’s incredible educational value for my children.

Every time they pull a weed, clip a piece of lettuce or water a tomato plant, I feel they learn something, specifically:

  1. Food Does Not Come From The Sky – I know that sounds ridiculous but we as a species are getting further and further removed from where our food comes from. How could our kids not think it comes from the sky?  I want a banana – I drive to the banana store.  If it were only that black and white.
  2. Food Is Labour – It takes time and muscle to take care of food. As this Macleans article outlies way better than I can, the food industry in Canada (really anywhere) relies on the poorest to perform the labours Canadians, for the most part, won’t.  I don’t suggest for a second that we solve that problem every time we step into our backyard but it does provide a small reminder to my kids that every bite into an apple, cucumber, carrot, or watermelon, meant someone picked it.
  3. Vegetables Can Be Amazing – In a previous life, I ran a home daycare and through my doors ran a plethora of picky eaters, especially when it came to the vegetables they would not eat. Some refused to eat any.  I was always a little shocked, but very pleased, when my fussiest of eaters would witness how a green bean grows and the ability to pick it yourself, wash it yourself, and eat it in the sun, made that vegetable a whole lot more appealing.
  4. It’s Not That Hard – Growing food can be precarious. I’ve had years where the weather was too dry, cold, wet or hot to produce more than a few tomatoes, and yes, that is discouraging.  I have never been able to grow a pepper and 5 seasons back, a bunny family moved in and I would catch them literally lying on their side, chewing lettuce at leisure.  But last year, I think I gave everyone I knew a cucumber because I had so many.  Trust me when I say – PLANTS DON’T LIKE ME.  I am envious of people born with an ingrained green thumbs.  That is not me, so if I can grow 4 kind of beans, 2 types of lettuce, carrots, peas, cucumbers, corn and tomatoes, ask that the weather cooperates, board out the critters, and I guarantee you can too.  And my kids have been able to witness that they can too.
  5. Working Together Towards A Common Goal – I think this might be my favourite lesson. There are so many examples in a day where we seem to be working solely on our own goal (hockey families…do you hear me as you pack up an entire family for one kids game?).  But getting everyone involved in a vegetable garden teaches the joy of a team, a family, working towards a common goal.  I have seen first hand the look on my kids face when they realized their hard work lead to tonight’s delicious meal.

For those who are going to take the plunge the summer, for the first time or twenty-eighth, and for those who want to do it for and with their kids, I wish you a prosperous bounty.


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2 thoughts on “Why Your Kids Need To Grow A Tomato

  1. One year we had this grandiose idea that we would grow all our own tomatoes and then have a salsa canning extravaganza in the Fall.
    Just as the Roma tomatoes we had been slaving over all summer were ripening, we hauled out the canning supplies from storage (you know, way under the kitchen sink behind a crap load of other stuff) and prepared for a weekend of canning delight.
    Upon arriving to harvest the bounty, we were horrified to discover that the dog had picked every tomato, ate only the innards and left the unwanted parts strewn all over the lawn like a butchering murder scene.

    Thus ended our dream of organic homemade salsa making and we packed all the stuff back into the cupboard.
    Never grew another tomato plant.

    P.S. The dog has been dearly departed for three years now and we still can’t bring ourselves to attempt that feat again.
    Maybe we have acquired some sort of veggie growing PTSD ????


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