Make Summer Meals a Family Affair: Start a Vegetable Garden

Image via Flickr/ OakleyOriginals

Oh man, do I love summer. I love everything that comes with it: fun, family, sunshine, relaxing by the poolside. Even food tastes better in the summer. What I love most about it is all the fresh, wonderfully healthy, and readily available local produce!!! Our family is a member of our local CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA groups allow community members to have direct access to high quality fresh produce that is grown locally by regional farmers. When you become a member of a CSA, you're purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer.

Each week during the summer, we head up the road to a local farm to pick up our share of that week's harvest. Depending on what's ready, we can choose from lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, kale, cabbage, potatoes, onions, squash, zucchini—you name it. My kids love going to the farm with their little sacks ready to fill with the fresh vegetables. (They also look forward to seeing Lacey, the farm dog that greets us as we drive in!) I love that we're feeding our family fresh, local vegetables, and they love that they've had a part in picking out what's for dinner.

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Now, I'm not going to lie, some nights it's easier than others to get them to eat what's on their plates. Brussels sprouts have yet to get a joyous reception at my table. But I'd say at least 7 times out of 10, if they picked it out at the farm, they eat it without argument.

Then last year, I had a breakthrough with my 6-year-old daughter. She was finally old enough to really pitch in and help and not just “help” with our vegetable garden! She came to the greenhouse with me to pick out our plants. (We tried sugar snap peas for the first time at her request.) She helped plant and was diligent about watering.

I tell you, there is something about a watering can that has magical “this is fun work” properties! She was so excited to see her plants grow and was even more thrilled when she finally was able to see them bear fruit! Picking that first sugar snap pea from the vine was like Christmas morning for her! She was so excited, and she quickly gobbled it up! Fresh raw veggies inducing holiday-like giddiness from my child = pure mommy joy!

My 3-year-old son, while not as involved with the actual helping, was also excited  to “help” in the garden and could often be found digging little craters in the dirt as we weeded.

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I'd say, in total, our little vegetable garden yielded us a good six weeks of fresh produce as well as several jars of canned tomatoes and several bags of frozen broccoli and chopped peppers! While the first year can be a little pricier to start, after a few years of established gardening, we were able to compost and till our garden now completely for free. I could save even more money if I started my plants from seeds, but even buying my vegetable plants from a local greenhouse cost me less than $100, and I definitely would have spent way more if I were buying that much produce from a store.

If you just can't manage a garden or don't have the space for one, I would highly suggest checking if there is a CSA program in your area. Not only is it great to support your community and eat healthier—totally selfishly—the food just tastes better! I can't even tell you the difference between broccoli that was picked fresh that day, and stuff that's been sitting on a truck and in a supermarket for weeks! SO. MUCH. YUMMIER!!!

What has worked to get your little ones eating their veggies? Anyone have any gardening tips to share? Tell us in the comments!

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Make Summer Meals a Family Affair: Start a Vegetable Garden

Jeanna Strassburg is a wife, and mother of three, who enjoys kitchen dance parties and summer time! Jeanna received her bachelor’s degree in Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho in April of 2007. She enjoys spending her time cooking, cleaning and tending to the proper duties of a stay at home mother… NOPE! Truthfully, she enjoys eating the food, but not making it or cleaning up after it. She likes to have a clean home, but loathes laundry and dishes. Loves her children, but coul ... More

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1 comment

  1. Mamasita says:

    Shure. . Dude i cook


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