If we get kids gardening that is going to help our green future. Kids are our hope for the future. If kids enjoy gardening then they will be sensitized to protecting our Earth. And hopefully they will grow up and be adult gardeners!
But there is more to it than that! I have already posted about how there is a bacteria in the soil that increases serontonin levels. Researchers have come up with a “hygiene hypothesis”. Studies are showing that dirt is healthy for children. It helps their immune systems develop in a healthy way. Mary Roebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor talks about how babies pick up everything and put it in their mouths to explore their environments. She says in her new book Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends: “Not only does this allow for “practice” of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.” For more discussion see Babies Know: A Little Dirt is Good For You in the New York Times.
So I propose that we start our kids gardening early by making mud pies and playing in the dirt while we are gardening. It is healthy for them and gets them used to any “yuck factor” if they are feeling that way.
They can also help plant seeds. Squash and cucumber seeds sprout in a dramatic way that will impress them. Get them involved with saving kitchen scraps and throwing them in the compost bin or feeding them to the worms. Lots of kids love worms but some are grossed out. Just give them time. My very girly girl granddaughters, ages 3 & 6, recently asked me to take them to feed the worms our cucumber peelings. That certainly surprised me when they previously hated the worms!
See my next post for more about making mudpies and playing in the dirt!