Did you know you can remove anxiety over food from your child's life while giving them security and a sense of control all from within your own backyard? Children today often find themselves in need of healthy food or even go hungry because of a lack thereof. Growing and raising food is a priceless gift you can give your child that will be explained in detail in this list. It's easier and more diverse than you may think. No child should be anxious over where his next meal will come from or have to go to bed hungry even though his parents are doing the best they can. Best of all, this is something you, the stay-at-home parent, can do with your children that will make memories and is a heritage they will thank you for in years to come. Find out how fun raising your own food with your children can be.
Show your kids where food comes from
A child should never go hungry, but let's face it, today's economy is putting the squeeze on even middle class families. Then there is the issue of quality of food. There are food deserts in developed communities where no fresh food is available, creating health issues for the residents. If you own a yard or even a pot you can grow your own food, and this is a vital security that children need in order to be all they can be in school and in life.
There are so many things to be insecure about in today's economy, but food security shouldn't be a worry on any child's mind. By simply showing your kids where and how their food ends up on the table, you can relieve a lot of anxiety. This will require you to actually plant a garden somewhere in your yard or to at least incorporate vegetables in the flower bed. It is vital that children are taught that they have some control over the food they eat and control over having access to it.
For children, just knowing there is food in the backyard can take away the worry that they will go hungry. The act of planting a garden with your kids can give them a priceless skill that will carry them through their entire lives. If you have a few square feet or a field, it is important to show kids where their food comes from and get them involved from planting to table. The rewards are numerous. Not only will they enjoy better health, but they will also develop a taste for good food.
Do you think your kids won't like the fresh foods you grow? Just get them involved and watch their love for it explode. Begin with foods they like or might like. If your child likes sweet things, think about growing some strawberries, grapes or carrots. If they like lettuce or onions on their hamburger, grow a salad garden. Be sure to try something new like collard greens which can't be done wrong and enjoy fresh greens from Spring until frost. Perhaps your child loves spicy food. Be sure to grow some hot peppers and garlic or even some chives which come back every year and flower. If ketchup and fries are more their style, grow some potatoes and tomatoes. The options are endless, and you will find that once a child gets used to the fresh options a garden provides, they will be encouraging you to grow things.
Incorporate backyard farm animals
There is a growing trend for everyone from city dwellers to the suburbs to incorporate a few chickens, goats or even a pig to offset the high prices of food. Of course, you don't have to become a butcher in order to do this successfully, yet the rewards are tremendous.
Are you tired of fluctuating egg prices or the thought of what commercial egg growers feed their chickens and the conditions in which they grow them? Now you can both give your children a few pets to take care of as well as fresh eggs that are healthy and right in the back yard. No matter what happens at the grocery stores, your kids will know they can eat eggs even if money gets too tight to secure food at the supermarket. This gives any child a sense of security that they will eat no matter what.
Chickens are very easy to maintain as long as you provide them some shelter and a little room to peck around and forage. You will need to buy layer feed to keep the hens laying eggs, as well as some grit and either ground up eggshells or oyster shell supplement to keep their egg shells strong. They'll eat weeds, bugs and grass too. A rooster is not needed to get eggs from your hens, but these eggs will never hatch. This is the same type of egg you get from the supermarket. Provide adequate water, but never try to bathe a chicken or make it swim. They are much different than ducks and will drown. Chickens give themselves dust baths and will use the litter if no other sources of dust are available. If you use the deep litter system, your chickens will stir it up all the time and keep it clean on top. You only have to change it 3-4 times a year. If you are worried about bugs or mites in the litter, be sure and scatter a little diatomaceous earth, or DE. You can purchase all of these items at a farmers market or even online. Be sure to check with the laws where you live to be aware of any limits on how many chickens you can have.
Goats are often kept for milk and to make homemade cheese. Be aware that goats will eat nearly anything. If you have a lot filled with honeysuckle or some other pesky weed, you may like to let a few goats help you clear the land, and if the female goat is about to wean a baby you can continue to take the milk by milking her yourself. Goats are not for everybody, but many love the freedom a goat brings regarding food. You can also eat goat meat if you wish after she no longer is able to reproduce. That is a personal preference.
A pig might be to your taste. They don't have to be a muddy mess, but they do like it. Get a few piglets in the Spring, and by fall they are ready to eat. Inexpensive bacon as well as organic meat if you wish can fill your freezer for just a little feed and some room. You and your kids will have a ball enjoying the little guys, but be ready to part with them as soon as they can be butchered. Again, you probably need a bit more room for pigs unless you just have one.
Ducks are also a great source of very large eggs, but they do require a source of water to bathe in and keep their nostrils clear of feed and other congesting things. A duck can live without a bath, but she will be a very unhappy duck and will have a hard time breathing from time to time. They make a bigger 'poopy' mess than chickens. Just think of chickens as dry and ducks as wet. They require nearly the same feed, but cannot process medicated feed.
The options of farm animals in your backyard are probably endless, but these are the most practical. Give one or two a try and watch your children's confidence grow, as well as their sense of well being when money is tight. They will always know there is food in the back yard and will help you gather eggs, and between the animals and your kids you are sure to have plenty of entertainment.
Make harvest time an education
So you planted a bunch of food bearing plants and now it's time to harvest. Now what? Get the kids all fired up about weighing the loot. You will be amazed at the excitement that you can generate when it's time to dig up the potato patch. Have the older children dig and the younger go behind and fetch the loot; just be sure to keep safety in mind. Keep little hands away from the pitchfork.
Whether you harvest one basket or fourteen, be sure to take the pride pics of your kids and you with your harvest. Next year when the lazies kick in or their ages change and they want to run with their friends, just pull out the pics and display them prominently as the season nears. Open a few jars of last years bounty and have a trip down memory lane as a reminder of all the fun spent together growing food. Make every stage of growing the garden an event to be looked forward to. Once the satisfaction of holding that first harvest in your hands and making that first meal gets into their bones, not only will you and your children feel a feeling of accomplishment, but the sense of security it provides is something you will never want to be without again. No need to worry what you'll have for dinner, just check the garden pantry or freezer for food you can count on.
Be sure to have someone count and record the tallies. Even a few ounces or a bunch of herbs warrants a space on the record. This will help encourage the kids and give you valuable information that will help you grow even more food next year. If no one liked the mustard greens, give that spot to something else next time. There is no right or wrong in gardening, just provide healthy soil, water and food and you'll have yourself a harvest.
The fun is in the eating
Eating is the ultimate goal. Worrying where dinner will come from tonight will be a thing of the past, and instead the only thing you'll have to worry about is how to use up all that delicious basil or that basket of tomatoes. Again, let the kids help think of what to make with the harvest. Pizza is a great meal to make that will allow you to incorporate all those delicious fresh items from the garden. It literally can be from garden to table when you make pizza.
One of the most rewarding things you can do with a surplus of food from the garden is show some charity. Give a box of fresh food to a family who is having a hard time in the economy as well. Showing your kids the joy of sharing is always a beautiful thing. Take grandma a basket of those heirloom tomatoes she used to grow in her youth and watch her face light up with that first taste.
Another thing you can do is have a party and rejoice over the harvest. Did you harvest a boatload of watermelons? Have a backyard party and see who can spit the seeds the fastest. Save those heirloom seeds, and after chilling them for a while they will be ready to sow next year.
From sowing, to caring for, to harvesting, to canning, to saving seeds, to sharing with family, neighbors and friends, the joys of gardening and the security of it will have your children focusing on success instead of worrying over the lack of food. No child should have to worry about going hungry or not having healthy choices. You can feel great knowing you have given your children a priceless heritage of knowledge and experience that will possibly save their lives. No matter what the economy looks like your children will eat, and eat well because you took the time to garden and have them involved every step of the way.