Five Reasons Why Kids Should Garden

by Seasonal Wisdom on June 16, 2011

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One of my favorite childhood memories was running around the garden until dinner time, chasing after lightning bugs and catching tadpoles. Sadly, too many kids spend most of their summer time indoors, playing on video games or watching TV.

This lack of contact with nature can negatively affect these children’s health, well being and academic performance, say experts.  Here are five reasons why kids should garden instead…

Photo by Faith*Buss.

Kids should garden because it encourages them to eat more vegetables, as this young boy with his mother shows.

Photo credit: Laura Matthews of

There are so many reasons why kids should garden. Here are only five:

1) Prevents Nature Deficit Disorder: With so many kids spending time away from nature, we’re seeing evidence of a “nature deficit disorder” in many children. As Richard Louv explained in his book, Last Child in the Woods, this disconnect from nature is leading some kids to become overweight, anxious and depressed. Plus, this nature deficit disorder is affecting children’s performance in school too. More about nature deficit disorder. To make sure this doesn’t happen to your kids, be sure to unplug the electronic gadgets regularly, and involve your family more in the garden.

Kids should garden because it teaches them more about nature, as this little girl shows.

Photo credit: Faith*Buss

2) Teaches About Nature … and More: Maybe it’s growing a sunflower from seed. Or, building a bean teepee in the backyard. But when you involve kids in gardening, they learn hands-on skills that broaden their awareness of the world around them. They learn why butterflies and bees help pollinate plants. And why the right amounts of water and sun are needed to get gardens to grow. Along with a greater appreciation for nature, gardens can also teach kids about biology, math, history, nutrition and more.

3) Gives Them Exercise: Gardening provides lots of healthy ways for kids to stay active and healthy. Between digging, raking and planting, your children will get plenty of exercise, vitamin D and fresh air. Be sure to make your garden chores creative, and mix them up a bit so they stay interesting. With a little patience, you’ll find your children will become helpful and fun assistants in the garden.

Kids should garden because it gives them exercise, as this little boy with the tomato shows.

Photo by Laura Matthews of

4) Encourages Kids To Eat Produce: Ask any parent with a vegetable garden. The kids that grow up around homegrown vegetables are much more likely to eat them too. Maybe it’s because kids enjoy picking fresh beans or tomatoes. Or perhaps it’s because fresh fruit and vegetables simply taste better just picked from your yard. But whatever the reason, gardening is an excellent way to help solve the problem that most U.S. children are not eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables. Try it yourself and report the results.

Kids should garden because it prepares them for life, as this little girl with the shopping basket shows.

Photo by Faith*Buss

5) Prepares Them for Life: There’s something magical about gardening. The tiny seeds that grow into healthy, big plants.  The birds that swoop down to capture a juicy worm. The end of the growing season when the plants start to die back for winter. All these lessons can be a wonderful reminder to be patient while things grow, and to keep the faith when some things die away. Besides, as human beings our brains are wired to be out in nature. Perhaps that’s why it’s feels so natural to be out there.

Kids should garden because it's fun, as this smiling boy shows.Hope this post has convinced you that kids should garden!

Warm Thanks for the wonderful photos from gardening moms and bloggers Faith*Buss and Laura Matthews of Punk Rock Gardens.  Be sure to check out their great blogs too.

Meanwhile, happy gardening! Photo by Faith*Buss


Kelly Senser June 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm

This post left me smiling, Teresa. Love gardening and exploring the backyard with my kids. So many wonders to share….

Teresa O'Connor June 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thanks so much, Kelly. Your work at the National Wildlife Federation has no doubt convinced you that we need to get more kids outside in nature. Have fun with your own children in the garden!

Lacy Van Campen June 17, 2011 at 10:22 am

Playing outside in our garden, picking our berries or simply playing in the grassed area is enough to improve our childrens behaviour. It is also an invaluable learning experience.

Teresa O'Connor June 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

So true, Lacy. Playing outside is one of my favorite childhood memories. In fact, it’s still one of my favorite things to do … even now. 😉 Thanks for stopping by.

Kathy @nativegardener June 17, 2011 at 10:49 am

Nothing tasted better than Mom’s green beans.. I used to pick them as a snack, right in the middle of playing outdoors, stop to rinse them, and eat them right then & there, before resuming play! So sweet! Of course, I couldn’t tell Mom. Next year when we (yes I helped) planted the garden, Mom did not incl green beans. When I asked why not, she said, “They just didn’t do well last year.” :-(

Teresa O'Connor June 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

That’s a great story, Kathy. I’ve seen young kids pick green beans right off the vine, even if they won’t eat them normally. It’s nice that love of gardening has stayed with you all these years. Thanks for stopping by, Teresa

Alison Kerr | Loving Nature's Garden June 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm

What a great post Teresa. I also love the photo by Punk Rock Gardens – I’ll have to go and visit that site now. I’ll be posting this on Facebook.

Teresa O'Connor June 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

Alison, thanks very much. Aren’t those kids adorable? Appreciate your sharing on Facebook too. Much obliged. Teresa

Victoria June 18, 2011 at 6:18 am

Good reminder. Now if I just had one or two grandchildren to share gardening with……

Jeanna June 19, 2011 at 5:39 am

Funny – I was outside in the garden in wintery drizzle today and was thinking about all the cool things I will do with my kids in the garden once spring arrives :)

Teresa O'Connor June 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

Hi Jeanna: It looks like you might be from the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed. Well, here in the U.S., we are having lots of opportunities to get those kids outside in the garden right now. Thanks for stopping by. Hope spring arrives quickly for you! Teresa

MamaBee June 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Yes yes yes. I totally agree with this entire post. We’ve got a community garden plot this year, plus a little container garden in the backyard. We’ve lost a couple green tomatoes, some onions and a few chives to child trompling/picking/general curiosity. But we knew going into this that they’d probably kill a few things and, y’know what? It’s totally worth it. I’m forever grateful to my mom for gardening with me and my sibs despite our “help,” and I’m planning to garden every year with my kids for the very same reasons – so they understand where food comes from and appreciate it, and learn to cherish the first fresh-from-the-garden tomato of the season.

Teresa O'Connor June 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

Thanks for that wonderful story, MamaBee. You are keeping alive a great family tradition, and I salute you for it. Best of luck in the garden with your kids. Teresa

Billy February 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

We need to reconnect kids with food and show them what healthy food really looks like. Education is key to healthy people.

Teresa O'Connor February 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Billy, That’s absolutely right. Here at Seasonal Wisdom, we’re always trying to show our readers that it’s easy to grow healthy seasonal food at home, even if you have a small yard. Thanks for stopping by! Teresa

Lisa Brown February 24, 2012 at 10:52 am

Great post! I was once fearful of the outdoors, but have gone through a metamorphasis, and am starting to really appreciate it. I’ve already started sewing seeds indoors, and am looking forward to spending time gardening w/ my son & daughter :)

Teresa O'Connor February 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

Hi Lisa: Thanks for your very nice comment. I just know that you won’t regret spending time gardening with your kids — or sowing those seeds either. Enjoy your time in nature, and thanks again for stopping by. Your blog is really lovely! Teresa

Sal February 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

My vegetarian neighbour ran an Inn and was always outside and riding her bike and eating her vegetables.. she just died from a second bout with cancer, in her sleep… I did wonder about all the chemtrails here? Could she be a victim of “The Great Culling” .. so very sad when one wants to be healthy… .. it affects all..

Ricardo Fong March 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

hello, i just ran onto this page, i find it interesting and totally agree, anyway i think things are much more complex in modern societies… where we find families living in flats with no gardens, parents working double shifts, unable sometimes to spend times with their children. I really enjoyed being in the nature as i was a kid and i know there are plenty of other ways of being in touch with it even if you don´t have a garden. it´s just that sadly… lots of families haven´t got the oportunity of affording a garden on which their kids could spend time.

Teresa O'Connor March 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Ricardo. I

t’s all true what you wrote. However, it’s probably more important than ever for children to spend time in nature.

I’d urge parents to consider joining a community garden; they are popping up in cities around the world. Botanical gardens, zoos and nearby urban farms all offer ways for kids to get more exposure to plants and animals. Don’t forget about purchasing a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership with a nearby farm. They’ll provide produce every week, and you’ll feel better knowing you’re getting food grown in your community. Often these farms have public visits so members can visit. Meanwhile, even in the tiny balconies you can grow a pot of herbs or lettuce. There’s always room for a bit of nature — no matter where you live. All best, and thanks for your comments. Teresa

suetv August 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm

. Your page is marvelous. I shared on FB and will continue to share, as it is a treasure trove of delight.

Seasonal Wisdom August 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

Thank you, Sue. Your feedback means a lot, and your Facebook shares are appreciated. All best, Teresa

Mike the Gardener April 22, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I find with my two sons, that they tend to eat what they grow. I gave each of them their own garden bed area to grow whatever they want. They get outdoors (away from video games) and learn gardening, nature, and where food comes from. It brings a smile to my face every time they are out there with me planting seeds.

Seasonal Wisdom April 23, 2014 at 10:44 am

You are so right, Mike the Gardener. Kids that garden eat more vegetables. There are so many reasons why children should be in the garden. Thanks for visiting.

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