Sunshine and summer are upon us, this is a perfect time to start planning your garden! This year don’t hesitate to get your child involved with the planning. Letting kids partake in the gardening process can increase fruit and vegetable intake. Growing fruits, vegetables or herbs can help show children that, like them, plants also need food and water to grow and be healthy. When children are put in charge of their own garden, they gain hands-on application in learning the work that is put into making our food. This scientific process can help grow a greater appreciation of the Earth. Having them learn the basics of gardening helps in self-esteem building and responsibility, as they watch their hand work bloom.
Starting a garden doesn’t have to cost much, for a fast-easy trick, next time you eat fresh carrots, save the tops, removing their leaves. Put the tops in a dish of water and watch the leaves re-sprout. You don’t have to stop there! See what else you and your child can grow together. There are many other resources on the Internet, local hardware stores or community programs.
To help kick start the growth of your own produce, today, Coeur d’Alene School District, Department of Nutrition Services has provided all elementary school students with a packet of pea seeds! This is to go along with their Garden Themed Lunch, Lettuce Grow Healthy Pickers, highlighting fresh fruits and vegetables.
Peas, cousin to the lentils, are both part of the legume family. Legumes are defined as any seeds that grow within pods. We commonly use the split pea variety; enhancing pot pies, soups, casseroles or salads. Idaho is the No. 1 producer of (Austrian) Winter Peas! Our neighbor, Whitman County, is responsible for a quarter of the lentil production in the United States. These little spherical vegetables may look uninspiring, but are exploding with many healthful nutrients! This makes them a great addition to any type of special diet. Peas have extremely low fat content and yield no cholesterol, helping keep your heart healthy! They are also an inexpensive alternative source for iron; all legumes contain three times the iron as meat. Just one quarter cup of legumes will provide you with 13g of dietary fiber. On average Americans should be taking in 25g of fiber/day. This makes them an excellent source of fiber.
As April showers bring in May flowers, encourage your whole family to garden! Be sure to ask your child what they brought home from school today. As the pea plants flourish, start looking up fun new recipes. The whole family can enjoy the health benefits of having expert gardeners in their midst!