Grow It Yourself's new Sow & Grow campaign: Getting kids in the garden

by My Kent Family reporter

Keeping children occupied, and getting them to eat fruit and vegetables, can be really tough for parents. But there's a simple way to successfully combine the two - by getting kids to plant seeds and grow and eat their own healthy produce.

Teaching children 'food empathy' through sowing and growing means they'll have a better understanding of food and where it comes from, and that familiarity makes them much more likely to want to eat the food they've grown, says Michael Kelly, founder of the Grow It Yourself (GIY) movement.

He says: "Getting children to grow their own food will help them to develop 'food empathy', which will follow them right through their lives.

Getting children to eat fruit and vegetables can be really tough for parents.

Getting children to eat fruit and vegetables can be really tough for parents.

"By growing some of their own food, they develop a better understanding of how food works, which is a proven lever to a healthier, happier life."

This year the Sow & Grow campaign, run by GIY and Innocent drinks, will teach more than 250,000 primary school children throughout the UK and Ireland how to grow their own food, by sending free growing kits, including seeds, compost, growing cups and more, to their schools.

But sowing and growing is important at home too, and Michael is keen to share some advice on how parents can get children to grow, eat and enjoy fruit and veg.

Children are more likely to try veg when they've grown it themselves

Children are more likely to try veg when they've grown it themselves

All you need is some soil or potting compost, seeds and a paper cup to get started.

"Kids will get a great buzz from seeing a little seedling emerge from the soil and having a real plant to mind," says Michael.

"They're more likely to try vegetables like spinach and peas when they've grown them themselves, and even the smallest food growing experiences have huge value in helping children to understand where their food comes from."

Michael Kelly, founder of the Grow It Yourself movement

Michael Kelly, founder of the Grow It Yourself movement

 

MICHAEL'S TOP TIPS

Let them choose: Kids are far more curious about food than we give them credit for, so get them to create a shopping list. Then, take your child to the supermarket and let them see, smell and feel the fruit and vegetables with you.

Variety is key: Immersing kids from a young age in trying lots of different foods will cultivate a diverse diet. A child as young as two can help you to wash fruit and vegetables and in doing so, you can explore new colours and shapes together.

Challenge: Encourage children to develop new skills in the kitchen by asking them to make a simple salad. They can tear up broccoli or lettuce for a salad, scrub potatoes and cut soft foods like strawberries and ripe tomatoes with a child-friendly knife.

Why not get the family out in the garden this weekend

Why not get the family out in the garden this weekend?

Be creative: Work with your child to create food art - from watermelon flowers to animal-inspired snacks. Even the pickiest of eaters won't be able to resist a plate full of colours.

Educate: Each week, teach your child about a new fruit or vegetable - maybe one they've picked themselves at the supermarket - and work on a new recipe together.

Texture v Taste: Have a raw and cooked vegetable option so your child can choose the one they like best. Some children like the crunch in raw vegetables, while others like vegetables to be soft.

Have fun: Let your child's imagination run wild and get them trying different combinations of food together to make smoothies. You're more likely to gauge a child's interest in fruit and veg by letting them experiment.

On the up... the Sow and Grow cups

On the up... the Sow and Grow cups

Involve friends: Involving their friends when getting ready for dinner is a fun, mucky, hands-on activity. For instance, you can create a mini-assembly line of food that needs mixing, rolling, washing etc.

Don't give up: If you're finding it hard to get your child to eat fruit and veg, try and work it into other recipes. For example, children will like cress; particularly if it's in an egg salad, so let them be in charge of sprinkling it into the dish.

For more on Grow It Yourself and Sow & Grow, visit giy.ie

Share this story

Sorry, comments are not enabled for this article.

Register or log in via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or your KentOnline account to post comments.

Post Comment

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.
Please click here for our house rules.

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.