Free Gardening Program You Can Do With Your Children
Looking for a meaningful activity during COVID-19 social isolation to keep your children occupied and educated at the same time? Here’s a free gardening program you can do with your children that will teach them basic gardening science, put food on your table, and learn about how regenerative farming is their future for sustainable living and good health.
One of my biggest complaints about the Internet is how intrusive it can be by bombarding me with targeted advertisements gleaned from my search history interests. However, on the rare occasion, I am presented with information that proves useful and does not cost me a dime.
The Rodale Institute
One example is an advertisement from the Rodale Institute—a nonprofit organization dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. The hook in their advertisement was some added information about regenerative farming practices and the value of going organic. Delving a little deeper into it, I found that there are a number of pay-for instruction videos and training programs. Fair enough. After all, nonprofits need financial support, and the sales pitch is what it is. No pressure here.
According to their About Us page, they tell us that “…for more than seventy years, the Institute has been putting science behind best practices in organic agriculture and sharing its findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet. We are headquartered on a 333-acre certified organic farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.”
Here is a Video about their Program and their Mission
Free Gardening Program for Children
Not only does the Rodale Institute provide both pay-for and some free training videos on gardening and agricultural practices that they promote for a greener and healthier lifestyle, but also provide programs that families can share together such as their “My First Garden” program.
My First Garden offers a free curriculum for educators and parents with pre-school and kindergarten-aged children, using downloadable lesson plans that can be easily adapted for older elementary-school learners as well. According to their webpage about the program, “…each lesson includes a video tutorial, printable resources, books to read, crafts, and snacks to get all senses involved! It consists of five lesson plans with step-by-step instructions that teachers can begin at any time of year.”
What I found going through their lesson plan is that it is well-developed script for teaching children, that takes a lot of the pre-work away from the adult and provides guided instruction that is easy to follow and guaranteed to not be boring for children…or the adults. Another plus is that it also includes a shopping list of what you will need to bring to a lesson and the expected costs at your local Lowe’s, Home Depot, Amazon, etc.
However, the program is more than just about sticking seeds in the dirt, adding water and waiting. The lesson plans actually encourages the child to become actively involved in trying healthy eating while learning about gardening and health and being mindful of their surroundings and all living things such as plants, animals and others. It’s like a Montessori of Gardening making better people while making better plants.
If you have any recommendations for gardening programs geared towards children and their parents, please let us know in the comments section below.
Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with a background in farming and an avid home gardener, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between plant biology and gardening for healthy living. For continual updates about plants and health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
1. Rodale Institute: “The Future is Organic”
2. Rodale Institute: “My First Garden”