Gardening with kids | Columnist

Gardens are full of joy. Marvel at the wonder of a seed and the fact that seeds contain all of the knowledge they need to one day become mature plants.

Eat a pea or strawberry straight from the vine and know you worked with the earth to make food – no ingredients to interpret, no packaging to throw away or recycle, and nothing between you and them edible gifts of the earth.

Get dirt under your fingernails and learn to hug it. Celebrate and practice gratitude for these and other joys you discover as the season progresses.

In addition to joy and amazement, gardening with children has many other benefits to support healthy living. Gardening enables children to spend time in nature, learn about healthy eating, and participate in the cultivation of the food that nourishes their developing body and mind. It is also a skill that they can use throughout their life to help them maintain confidence and self-confidence.

If you don’t have a garden at home (or even if you do), here are some local ways to go gardening with the kids in your life:

Sign up for a community garden plot. There are community gardening opportunities through the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association, Poncha Springs Community Garden, and Crestone Mesa Community Garden. Crestone Mesa Gardens are new to the entire community, and there may still be a lot or two left this year. Call 719-239-0955 to inquire. Or start planning for next year!

Start a window herb garden. To buy seeds or herbal plants, check with growers at Salida or Buena Vista Farmers’ Markets, Brady’s West Garden Center, or Merrifield’s Garden Hut & Greenhouse (Buena Vista). To learn more about growing herbs, visit the Salida Regional Library or the Buena Vista Public Library, or call the Chaffee County Extension Office (719-539-6447) for advice with a Master Gardener or Extension Agent to speak.

Volunteer at Colorado Farm to Table. Every year they grow and donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to needy families in Colorado. Visit www.coloradofarmtotable.org to learn more.

Check out Tidy-Up on Tuesday. Tuesdays 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. through September, visit Guidestone in the gardens of Salida Middle School and Longfellow Elementary School to get your hands in the dirt and help with gardening. Tuesdays with odd numbers are in Longfellow Elementary School and Tuesdays with even numbers are in Salida Middle School. Visit www.guidestonecolorado.org for more information or just drop by.

Help out at Guidestone’s Community & School Farm on Holman Avenue (next to the dog park). In exchange for weeding, planting, harvesting, and other special farm projects, volunteers can take vegetables home (if seasonally available) and the farm is about to burst. The volunteer hours through September are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Mondays from 5 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. Come at these times if you can.

Ask your favorite farmer if they have volunteer days or if they ever need extra hands. More information is available at www.chaffeeprovides.org.

If you have any questions, contact information for the organizations mentioned, other ideas on easy ways to get started gardening with children, or to share your favorite wonders and benefits of gardening, contact Leah at [email protected]

Leah Capezio is the operations manager for Guidestone Colorado.

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