Teach the Importance of Nutrition with Gardening

By Cassandra HealthPlanet

Fresh organic mint gardening for a fun activity this summer

Summer is here! The sun is out and your kiddos are out of school! Now is the time to gather their bundle of energy and find some  fresh ways to focus it, while at the same time building quality time together, instilling creativity, teaching about the environment and imparting great values such as mindfulness, giving, nutrition and sustainability (all values, I sure want my kiddos to have!). Now let’s start to plant some ideas and watch them grow by implementing this fun activity to do with your kids this summer.

Planting a seed and taking your kids (best for 5+ years) through the lifecycle of tending to it and watching it grow is a great analogy to use to teach them the importance of nutrition and environment for nourishing their own bodies. I suggest using mint (and we’ll also be using this herb in an upcoming recipe blog), but you can also do this with flowers, or any other plant, fruit, veggie or herb of your choice.

Here’s what you’ll need for this fun activity:

  • Mint Seeds
  • 2 Wide Planters
    • 8-11 inches in width (mint needs wide space for its roots to grow).
    • Here’s a good one: bit.ly/MintPlanters
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Organic Soil
  • Non-Organic soil
  • 2 places in your house to place the planters
    • One Sunny area & one with shade
  • 2 Types of Water
    • Tap water
    • Bottled spring water

Before you get started, have a conversation around the following elements to get your little ones to associate the planting cycle with their own bodies:

Seeds

Seeds are like our bodies. What you give the seed and how you care for it will affect how well it grows, how good it tastes, and how bright of a color it gives. Just like us, the food we put into our bodies, the water we drink, the people we surround ourselves with, the things we tell ourselves and the places we live all affect how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally, how our entire body performs, and how much energy we have to do the things we love.

Soil

The soil in which we plant the seed is like the environment in which we live, and the nutrition we receive. If we have organic, nutrient rich soil, our plant may grow faster and stronger and may taste better and have a brighter color. The food we eat also affects how we grow and how we feel. If we put lots of good nutrients into our bodies, we will feel energized to do all the things we want to do. If we don’t, we can feel sluggish and tired.

Water

A vital part of keeping plants and ourselves healthy. We cannot live without water. If we didn’t ever water this plant, it would not grow and would eventually die. We need water just as plants need water and the type of water we drink can affect how we grow and feel as well.

Sunlight

A vital component to this plant’s health as well as our own health. If this plant doesn’t get enough sunlight, it will not grow and thrive. We also need sunlight to get Vitamin D and to be our best and happy selves.

Love and Attention

We need to water the plant and check it often to make sure it is taken care of. We can also say nice things to it. When we check in with ourselves often and say nice things to ourselves we can help ourselves grow as well.

Now the fun part!

  1. Label one planter “A” and the other planter “B”
  2. Place organic soil in one planter and non-organic soil in another planter and tap planter to easily distribute the soil.
  3. Lightly moisten Organic soil with spring water and non-organic soil with tap water
  4. Sow the mint seeds about ¼ inch deep into each of the moist potting soils, evenly distributing them across the planter. Plant 1-2 seeds per inch.
  5. Water the mint seeds lightly, using spring water for the organic and tap water for the non-organic. The soil should be damp, not soggy.
  6. Loosely cover each planter with plastic wrap over the top.
  7. Place the “A” plant in a sunny and warm place indoors that will allow the soil to maintain about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the “B” plant in in a slightly sunny place indoors. You want someplace that gets sun but not as much sun as the “A” version.
  8. Lightly water the seeds every 3 days to keep the soil damp making sure to use spring water for the “A” plant and tap water for the “B” plant.
  9. Once seedlings begin to emerge from the soil (may take 7-21 days or possibly longer depending on mint variety), take off plastic wrap and continue to water every 3 days.
  10. Once you have mint leaves (or not!), sit down with your kiddo and have them observe the height of the plant, the color and the taste. If there are any major differences (which there should be) you can show him or her proof that you are what you eat (and so much more!) and that everything you put into your body matters!

Don’t be surprised if they start asking for broccoli and carrots for their next meal 🙂

And now the REAL fun begins. We’ll be taking some of those fresh mint leaves and making some 5-minute mint chocolate chip coconut ice cream cubes with the kiddos (coming soon!): Another fun activity to do with your kids this summer! Until then, mint is the perfect ingredient for any organic baby food you’re making at home (or in Once Upon a Farm Wild Rumpus Avocado)!

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