How to Garden With Your Children

“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.”

 

In this beloved children’s story, Peter Rabbit, the rabbits live with their mother and Peter is caught sneaking into Mr. McGregor’s Garden. This summer at Camp Gan Shalom we are looking at how animals move and act, and exploring this further through reading children’s books.

 

This week as we looked at Rabbits, we took the time to focus on hopping and jumping, but also gardening and nature. A quick Google search will turn up a variety of sites about “gardening with your children.” This week, thank goodness it isn’t as hot outside(!), we will be working in Beth Shalom’s garden. The kids set up the garden last year, and so this year we will be taking the time, after reading stories about bunnies and gardening, to translate  that to our own garden experience out front. We will be creating a “pizza garden.” Everything that we plant, when harvested, will make pizza sauce and toppings.

 

So we have planted the idea of gardening with your child, where can it go from here? In Richard Louv’s groundbreaking work The Last Child in the Woods he talks about “nature deficit disorder.”

 

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.”

 

How can we avoid “nature deficit disorder?” At Beth Shalom we already have the kids playing outside, going on walks, and learning about and celebrating Tu B’Shevat. What can you do with your child at home? Play Outside! Encourage outdoor play instead of tv watching, start a garden. (No room for a garden? Check out this cool site about container gardening) http://suite101.com/article/gardening-with-preschoolers-a101616 You could take a trip to Phipps Conservatory or go play in the park!

 

These are just a few ideas to get you and your child out and about, moving, and learning about and taking care of God’s creation as we were instructed. So hop to, and garden away.

 

Preschool Gardening Sites:

http://www.sixtysecondparent.com/_webapps/Gardening%20with%20preschoolers

http://eartheasy.com/grow_gardening_children.html

http://www.projectsforpreschoolers.com/5-tips-for-gardening-with-preschoolers/

http://www.babyzone.com/kids/kids-fun/gardening-benefits_67895

 

Here are some ideas on how to incorporate Jewish Ideals into your gardening. (Information from URJ)

Using what you grow:

A healthy harvest: During harvest season (late summer and fall), collect food once or twice a week so you have regular produce to donate and/or enjoy, and so new plants have room to grow. Assign one or two people to be in charge of food distribution so everyone takes a fair share.

 

Think Jewishly: Many synagogue gardens embrace the idea that the corners of the field should go to the less fortunate. If you are interested in donating, find a local soup kitchen or food pantry to partner with.

 

Celebrate your success: Keep some food for your volunteers, so they can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Decide how much food you will give to tzedekah, how much you will give to the congregation, and how much to save for your gardeners ahead of time, so everyone gets a share.

 

Pray with your feet AND your food: Consider displaying your weekly harvest at Shabbat services and using produce for oneg celebrations, so all congregants can learn about the garden, see what’s in season, and get involved. Think about how you can use your garden to help celebrate Jewishly. In 2009, the Sukkah garden at Baltimore Hebrew

Congregation grew pumpkins, squash, gourds, and ornamental corn for the synagogue Sukkot celebration. The congregation saved $1,000 on produce, and next year they plan to distribute their Sukkot produce to other Jewish communities inBaltimore

 

Close the loop: Build a truly sustainable garden system by composting the food and organic waste from your garden on site, or giving your waste to a local farmer who can use it for soil or animal feed. TheReligiousActionCenterstarted composting outside its office this year, and the staff can’t wait to see the results

 

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