A class of first graders took a field trip to a small farm. The farmer led the kids to his carrot patch, reached down, and proudly pulled up a carrot. “Yuck!” one child yelled, “why does that carrot have dirt all over it?”

The farmer was shocked since his own kids had grown up gardening. He patiently explained that the vegetables the kids ate at home were all grown in soil and were washed and prepared before being sold at the grocery store.

Sometimes we take for granted what kids know. If children are not exposed to a garden and how plants are grown, they have no idea what happens to provide all those clean and neatly packaged vegetables sold in grocery stores.

Educators are beginning to realize that basic life skills need to be taught in school, along with the basics of reading, writing, math, and science. How to plant a garden is an important life skill kids should know. How to prepare vegetables grown in a garden for eating is another life skill. What insects are beneficial and which are pests is also a life skill. There are so many useful life skills children can learn in a garden.

Garden clubs can help youth learn how to garden by working with a class of students, a church group, a 4-H group, or youth in a daycare. Planting a small garden, or in containers, offers children the chance to learn about nature and the world around them. A container of carrots or lettuce is a great first-time gardening activity for children. You do not have to have a huge garden to teach the basics of gardening and the life skills that go with gardening.

Has your garden club ever worked with a youth group? If so, write a short blog about it and send the blog and one photo to azgardenblog@gmail.com. It will be posted on the AFGC Greenleaf Blog. Sharing your experiences will inspire other garden clubs to become involved with youth gardening activities.

By Karen Bowen. Karen is a member of the Yuma Orchid & African Violet Society, is a master gardener, and is the Pacific Region Butterfly Chairman.

Photo: Karen Bowen
1. Gardening teaches children many important life skills.