It's a well-known fact that kids can be fussy eaters, especially when it comes to vegies. In fact, according to Healthy Kids NSW website - an initiative of the NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Department of Education, Office of Sport and the Heart Foundation - a whopping 56% of primary school students and 80% of secondary school students are not consuming the recommended daily amount of vegetables.*
So, how do you get kids to put aside the processed food and pick up something healthy? There are a number of ways, but Queensland Health suggests that one of the most effective ones is by getting kids out in the garden.*
Our top 5
Here's a list of five vegies you can grow with your kids. Each of them is a fast-growing plant, so your kids will be excited by quick results - and even better, you can get them into the ground now.
The ideal kid-sized snack, these juicy little cuties have all the health benefits of a delicious tomato, such as antioxidants and vitamin c, in a miniature form. This is a great option for growing in pots, troughs or raised beds, as the plants don't tend to grow much higher than 40cm.
Crisp, crunchy and full of fibre, lettuce is a versatile addition to salads, makes a great alternative to bread-based wraps and forms the basis of healthy dinner favourite, san choy bau. Kids will love picking individual leaves as they're needed - and you'll love that none of it goes to waste!
Iconic for their bright colour and high in vitamin c, crunchy carrots make an excellent and easy to prepare raw snack. They're also a hit with kids in the garden, because of the surprise factor at harvest time - they'll love pulling up the leafy green tops and discovering the orange surprise beneath the soil!
Want greens with a twist? Rainbow chard's stems come in a wide variety of tones, including red, orange, pink, purple and yellow. Kids will be so excited by the home-harvested rainbow on their plate that they won't think of any nutritional benefits - but you'll feel safe in the knowledge that it's a great source of iron. Fun fact - it's also known as rainbow silverbeet!
Low on space? Try growing snow peas - they're climbers, which mean they'll grow happily up a trellis without taking up too much space in your garden bed. The pods, which are rich in potassium and B vitamins, make a great school Crunch&Sip snack, or can be eaten straight from the vine!
Keeping them engaged
Once you've planted your little vegie patch, keep the kids involved and engaged by giving them specific tasks and responsibilities. You can divide tasks up among the kids, giving them each a specific responsibility, or you might choose to make each child responsible for a specific area in the garden. Make it their job to water, fertilise and check on their vegies regularly - they'll be thrilled when their little patch is thriving, all because of their efforts! In addition, it's a great way to open up a dialogue around food and nutrition, toward harvest time, by asking them what meals they'd like to try their freshly-grown vegies in, and encouraging them to think about how they might like to help with preparation.
Other benefits to kids gardening
Aside from learning about the plot-to-plate process, there are a number of other benefits to getting the kids out in the garden. Gardening is a great way to teach responsibility - for example, by remembering to feed and water their plants, as above. It's also a great way to get kids outside, with the physical aspect of gardening helping to get them moving. Finally, gardening is a project the whole family can enjoy together, from the very early stages of starting a vegie patch all the way through to harvest.
Ready to get gardening? Click here to browse our edible range, or visit one of our 10 Sydney stores for expert advice from our garden people.
*Information last accessed 05/09/19.