Allotments for children
Encouraging kids to grow fruit & veg
Healthy eating for kids
On behalf of, and with our thanks to Chloe Marchbank
How can you encourage your kids to sow and grow their own fruit and veg?
Getting fruit and veg into kids is an ongoing battle, isn’t it? No matter how hard you try to hide it in their food they always manage to find it and push it to the side of their plate. Even when you try and bargain with them you are unlikely to get them to eat more than one piece of carrot or a slice of apple before they think they have satisfied their side of the bargain and are ready for a chocolate pudding.
At this young age they neither understand nor care about getting their five-a-day, unless that means five different types of sugary, sweet treats.
Likewise it can be just as difficult to keep kids occupied, as it can to be to get them to eat their greens. And, ultimately you want them to be spending some time outside breathing in the fresh air rather than sitting in front of Cbeebies all day.
So, have you considered encouraging kids to actually sow and grow their own fruit and veg – killing two birds with one stone?
Children who grow their own fruit and veg are much more likely to eat it. Rather than this mysterious orange object appearing on their plate, they will understand where it comes from, will feel a sense of achievement having grown it themselves and will be excited to say that they picked it ready for the dinner plate.
Research from the British Nutrition Foundation found that a third of primary school pupils think cheese comes from plants and tomatoes grow underground – in part it is this lack of understanding, the fear of the unknown, which makes them dismiss healthier food before they have even given it a chance.
So, give them a small patch of garden (even a pot or two will do) to promote a sense of ownership and responsibility. Browse gardening sites such as Bakker and let them choose what they would like to grow and make sure you get a variety. To make this as easy as possible while you are initially trying to get them interested, make sure to look for plants that are easy to sow, that germinate quickly, require little maintenance, perhaps that they already like and remember food that can be eaten straight from the plant such as tomatoes are always a hit.
Then get them their very own pair of gloves, a mini fork and spade and a watering can, a little gift like this can inspire interest. When the seeds arrive, let them do the work but talk them through how to care for their produce as you go. Finally, allow them to water the seedling as they start to emerge through the soil.
To encourage them to keep a close eye on their fruit and veg and not get bored, perhaps they could note down the changes they see each day, what they are doing to care for it and perhaps even draw it as it starts to grow.
Once it is fully grown, let them help out in the kitchen – so they can see how it goes from the ground to their plate. Let them wash it, perhaps allow them to chop the softer food (with close monitoring by yourself, of course) and then plate it up.
While you want them to eat the veg that is on their plate, why not show them how the fruit and vegetables from the garden can also be transformed into a smoothie – this will impress them and they are much more likely to have it and enjoy it in this form, especially if they have made it themselves.
Ultimately this introduction to fruit and veg in this form will benefit them right through into adulthood, because growing their own food will give them a better understanding of how it works and encourage them to live a healthier life.