Teach Kids to Grow Their Own Food
One fine Saturday, the Kinder students of Bright Kids Preschool went out of the classroom for real world learning. The mission: to teach kids to grow their own food. And this was held at the Negros Farmers Weekend Market, located at Magsaysay Avenue, Bacolod City.
A Hands-on Vegetable Gardening Experience
In our modern world, kids can be quite pampered. They are the center of their parents’ world. Everything is almost always given to them, sometimes on a silver platter. How would they know that food is actually grown from the ground and not just taken off the shelf in the supermarket?
We teach them. We expose them. And that’s exactly what Teacher Sheryll Ong, Directress of Bright Kids Preschool, did. Last weekend, two Kinder classes went to the Negros Weekend Farmers Market just to experience vegetable gardening.
Teacher Sheryll wanted a follow up activity for Entrepinoy, where the kids learn entrepreneurship by selling. This time, she teamed up with Ms. Ruby Cruz of Negros Farmers Weekend Market who suggested about letting the kids experience growing vegetables before actually selling them.
Ms. Cruz said that trading is only one aspect of entrepreneurship and is actually very easy to do. Instead, she wants the kids to experience the different aspects agriculture. These are to know how to plant, to transplant, to wait for the plants to grow, and to take care of them until harvest.
The Goals of the Activity
When we set out last Saturday, Teacher Sheryll had the following goals in mind:
Instill Appreciation of Agriculture
“Negros is a very blessed province,” Teacher Sheryll says. ” It can be the rice bowl of the whole Philippines.” With that perspective, she wants to be able to raise a generation that values agriculture as a way of doing business and as a way of life.
Learn Good Values
Bright Kids Preschool has been around for 9 years already. They have produced very smart kids who excel in the big school. But this year, Teacher Sheryll aims to strengthen good values in children that they can bring as they grow up.
Awareness of the Environment
The activity is done outdoors so the kids were exposed to the natural environment. Plus, they learned to clean up after themselves and take out their trash. “In an age where kids are digitally wired, we would like to see them develop a love for agriculture and our environment,” Teacher Sheryll adds.
Learn About Collaboration
Collaboration is an important 21st century skill. Teacher Sheryll says that nobody can work alone. It’s always a collaboration among different departments to come up with different innovative products. With that, the kids were made to work in pairs so that they can help each other out.
Through the activity, the teachers were able to see who among the kids love gardening, who can work well with others, and who can follow instructions.
Learn to Follow Instructions
There is great care in gardening and the kids were given basic instructions. They were asked to fill up the seedling tray with soil, make shallow holes, put in the seeds, and cover them. Then they were to water the seeds and bring them to the shelter. The teachers observed who excelled in following the steps.
The parents came to bring and accompany their kids to this field trip. But it also became a family bonding activity of sorts because the parents also joined in the game and in helping the kids carry their trays.
A Learning Game
Tito Leo, the agriculturist at the Negros Weekend Farmers Market, first explained about the importance of eating nutritious food. That includes fruits and vegetables.
Then the kids were made to join a passport game. They had to identify and hunt the vegetables from their passports around the market. It was fun plus the kids got some exercise. They had to walk from the function hall to the market and also ran around to pick vegetables. Afterwards, they had to present their picks to the teachers and got a sticker to fill up their passports.
Going back to the classroom setup, the kids were paired and and given a seedling tray. The facilitators took out some soil that will be used for planting. The actual soil composition for seedlings is as follows:
- 1 part sand
- 2 parts vermicompost
- 4 parts garden soil
The soil was mixed and the kids were asked to fill up their seedling trays with soil using their hands. Our daughter Shane is not squeamish with soil. She plays in our garden, helps me in weeding, and also collects stones. She was the nearest to the soil pile so she jumped right in. We are not afraid to let her play like this because we believe that exposure to nature makes her stronger and even happier. Plus, her milk NESTOGROW has probiotics to ensure that she has a healthy tummy.
The kids then put a single seed in each hole of the tray. They also watered their trays and moved them to the seedling shelter at the back.
Negros Farmers Weekend Market is an expansive place. I am not sure how big it is, but you would be surprised at the area and that it’s conveniently located within the city. It is not just a market but more like a park. The place is clean and well-maintained and there is a huge grassy field in the middle. Plus, there are dining provisions so you can bring your family here on weekends and enjoy good food.
Futhermore, the kids got to run around, breathe semi fresh air (semi because we are still in the city), and played under the sunlight. These things are necessary for their happy and healthy growth. We used to have this as kids but with the advent of technology, kids nowadays are most likely cooped indoors playing gadgets. Parenting in the digital age can be quite challenging.
The vegetable gardening activity does not end at planting. In December, the Kinder students will have to go back to the Negros Farmers Weekend Market to check on their plants.
I think the activity was a success and all goals were achieved. Mommy Cata Manaloto, mom of AJ said, “Today was all about ????????? and the best way to grow them… as they help us grow, too! Thank you Bright Kids Preschool for such an interesting and unique way of raising gardening and nutrition awareness among our children.” Aptly said.
Why we need to teach kids to grow their own food
So why do we need to teach kids to grow their own food? They might not all become farmers some day, but there are good reasons why we should educate them about this.
They aim for healthier nutrition.
There is a sense of satisfaction when you see the fruits of the works of your hands. The children will develop a better sense of why naturally grown foods are vital to health. Additionally, they will most likely eat the food that they have grown because they worked hard for it.
They will eat better tasting food.
While my kids are an exception, it seems that kids do not lean towards the eating of vegetables. But I must admit, sometimes, the fresher the ingredients, the better they taste. If you use fresh ingredients straight from your garden for your homecooking, any vegetable dish will taste so much better. The same also applies to seafood–the fresher they are, the better they taste.
Seafood dishes you might want to try:
They will develop life skills.
Gardening is a skill. Plus, growing vegetables can teach a child values like patience, responsibility, and cooperation (hence, the pairing). They need to be patient in order to wait for the growth and harvest. Plus, they learn responsibility because they need to make sure that plants are properly taken care of. This is a partnership, so they learn to work together.
They get to spend time outdoors.
As I’ve mentioned, kids can easily stay outside and watch TV or play with the tablet. Get them out there to enjoy working and playing. The sunlight and fresh air are good for them (and for us, too).
They will most likely develop good habits.
We hope that by teaching children good habits at a young age, they would most likely carry that on for the rest of their lives. So make it into a family tradition. If you live in the city with limited space, you can opt for container gardening. In the long run, the kids will be healthier and more connected to the environment. This is also a surefire way to beat inflation on the home level.
Tips for Growing Food with Kids
Do you also want to teach your kids to grow their own food? Here are some suggestions:
Kids would love sowing seeds. It gets their hands dirty and they love it (or at least , Shane does). Bigger seeds like peas, beans, and squash would be easier for younger children to handle.
Little kids appreciate liberties so give them some autonomy in the garden. You may want to give them a dedicated bed or maybe just part of a bed that they can use. With some guidance on how to properly do it, let them plant what they want there.
Fast Growing Foods
Check out the fruits and veggies that grow fast. Let your kids plant these, as the quick turnout will encourage them to grow more. You may also ask them to measure themselves against the plants each week.
Are your kids picky eaters? Encourage them to sample the crops produced in your vegetable patch. Some of the foods that they can consume raw would be carrots, tomatoes, and strawberries. Aside from being nutritious, eating foods like this will help them develop their palate.
The Messier, the Better
Kids love the messiest job so give it to them. Let them dig, sow seeds, and water the plants. It would be just like play for them but it teaches them responsibility.
Enjoy vegetable gardening and growing your own food! We will soon do this, too, but only with containers. 🙂
Negros Farmers Weekend Market
Magsaysay Avenue, Bacolod City (beside Luxur Hotel)
Open on Saturdays and Sundays only for breakfast and lunch
Find Negros Farmers Weekend Market on the map
Bright Kids Preschool – 10th Lacson Street, Bacolod City
Tel. No. (034) 433 4713
Bright Kids Preschool Lucasan – Villa Lucasan, Bacolod City
FB page: BrightKidsPreschool