Derby time also kicks off gardening season

Get your kids involved in a rewarding, healthy, fun pastime

Gardeners know that Derby weekend marks the point in spring when it’s safe to begin planting flowers and vegetables. If you’re seeking a way to instill some healthy habits in your kids, consider planting a garden.

Many children believe that the only place to find fruit and vegetables is in the produce section of the local grocery store or in a can, but parents can educate them on how to grow their own berries and veggies, while also teaching them how to care for growing plants — a good source of fresh air and exercise.

Local mom Emily Burrice grew up gardening with her parents at her childhood home.

“It’s just something I’ve always done,” she said. She introduced gardening to her children when they were very young.

Starting a garden?

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“Last year we grew tomatoes and cucumbers,” Burrice said, “and my daughter has an herb container garden.”

Jefferson County Public Schools actively promotes the importance of gardening. Approximately 30 JCPS schools have gardens. According to their website, students have planted and harvested tomatoes, broccoli, squash, lettuce, radishes, cabbage and green onions. This opportunity teaches students about raising their own produce, which incorporates earth science, gives them a chance to learn how to follow a recipe and measure ingredients for different dishes, and taste new foods that may not be available at a grocery store.

Participating in gardening gives children an appreciation for nature and opens their minds to the idea that fruits and vegetables come from the earth.

“Gardening also provides us with good family time,” Burrice said. “It gives children a sense of pride and responsibility.”

If you’re unsure how to start a garden and need information, your county’s extension office can help or check out the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Food and Environment website. Consider taking a field trip to the Children’s Garden in Lexington. One of its key features is to provide motivation to try fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods to improve kids’ attitudes and behaviors.

In Louisville, the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center is offering a summer kids camp that will focus on nature, gardening and reducing environmental impact. Louisville also is abundant in nurseries and nature areas where you can learn more.