April Showers Bring May PRODUCE

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I grew up in farm country.  Yup!  You read that correctly!  I am from New Jersey (the “Garden State” is not a joke!) and I grew up literally surrounded by an outdoor center (next door), a nursery (across the street), a horse farm (next to the nursery), and within a mile of at least two major family run farm-stands at any one time (up to three or four at one point).

There were probably many reasons we did not grow our own produce, but the only reasons I am really aware of are: we were surrounded by fresh produce with all the farms near us and we knew the families that owned two of the nearby farm-stands.  Those reasons, of course, combined with the fact that both my parents originated from more urban areas of the state did not help either.

Though I did not get much practice digging in the dirt, other than occasionally planting flowers with my parents or for community service with the girls scouts, I still grew up with an appreciation for fresh produce and its amazing flavor.  My mother was a SAHM too and, like most single-income families, we were always on a fairly rigid budget.  So, I also learned from a young age the affordability of cooking everything from scratch and, obviously, developed a taste for home-cooked food.  Needless to say, it is important to me that my son acquire the same appreciation for wholesome, natural foods.

In order to teach my son about the importance of producing the food we eat, I intend to take several approaches.

This year, I plan to obtain most of our produce from local farm-stands.  Now that we are back in close proximity to where I grew up, I know exactly where to go!  I want him to see small local farms in action and to smell all the fresh fruit and vegetables they produce.  I also want to take him to all the events hosted by those local farms in the summer and fall that my family went to when I was young (ie: strawberry and pumpkin festivals) so he can experience the fun of harvesting.

Next year, I plan to start our own garden.  I have always wanted to start a garden and I think learning together will give us something amazing to bond over.  We just moved, so I am waiting a year for logistical reasons as well as age considerations since Dylan probably would not get much out of gardening at sixteen months of age.

I do, however, still plan on exposing Dylan to some time in the dirt this summer with frequent visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  My father-in-law has a beautiful, rather impressive garden filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, various herbs, and more!  His father taught him and I know he would love to share his wealth of gardening knowledge with all of us.

I hope, with the help of local family and friends, Dylan will not only learn to appreciate the importance of growing one’s own food (or buying from local small farms), but that he also really develop a love for the robust flavors of organic, fresh fruits and vegetables.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.

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  1. Laura says:

    Of course he will love his fresh fruits and veggies! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Michelle says:

    Great post! Dylan is growing up so fast :) Enjoy your family and all the fresh produce nearby! :)

  3. I have the same hopes for my little one! I’m glad to have found your blog from the Carnival of Natural Parenting and I’m following you on GFC now :-)

  4. Dionna@CodeName:Mama says:

    I think grandparents and gardening with little ones go hand in hand. I remember watching my grandfather out in his garden, he was always so gentle and patient. Your little one will treasure these memories! Thank you for sharing with us :)

    • Thank you for the feedback! You made a very good point; pretty much every memory involving interaction with my grandparents is a treasured memory! Now I’m even more excited about the idea! I also mentioned it to my father-in-law in the mean time and he lit up! :)

  5. Seonaid says:

    We started out with shares in a CSA, and now have a stall at the local farmers market. This gardening thing can get addictive! I think you’re right; there’s no better way to get kids to eat their veggies than to let them get involved in growing and harvesting them.

  6. Lori says:

    I miss the strawberry picking festival right across the street from my old house! Great post. I agree with cooking with more food grown locally. I unfortunately did not inherit my mom’s green thumb and i pretty much kill all my plants so i have given up for now. I eventually would like to have a little herb garden.

    • Thanks Lori! I miss the strawberry festival there too! I don’t think they do that anymore :( I’ll just have to find a new one! I am terrible with house plants, but I’m hoping I’ll be better with the outdoors! That’s true for me in other areas (mainly exercise) so I’m hoping that will be the case with my future garden too! :) Although, I worry that I won’t do what needs to be done when the uncomfortable days of summer arrive because I won’t want to leave the a/c!

  7. That is so fabulous that your little one has grandparents near by with gardening expertise, plus all the local small farms. I think that is a true gift you can give your child. I did not grow up gardening, but remember going to my aunt and uncle’s 10 acres that seemed enormous to me. There are so many memories to be made there!

    • Thanks for your feedback!

      I actually have similar memories going to my aunt’s farm in upstate New York. It wasn’t a functional farm, just a house with a lot of land and I’m pretty sure they had a garden because I know they did their own canning. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that until now.

      And, now that I’m thinking about it, when I was in middle or high school another one of my aunts bought a dairy and hay farm with her husband and moved out to PA and I used to LOVE helping them throw the bails of hay into the barn!

      I think both those experiences probably heightened my appreciation of nature and small farms too!


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