In the midst of tending to our busy orchard and farm, we occasionally had a helping hand from our kids when they were little. We’re a blended family of 5 kids, so there were always plenty of hands around when we needed them.

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While they were willing to help out when asked (especially if we offered to pay them :)) their connection with the world of fruit growing was somewhat distant.

It was probably because we were working so hard to make our living from the orchard that it left little room for exploring the fun, imaginative side of gardening with them.

Interestingly, as they’ve grown into adults with their own gardens, most of them have shown an emerging love for gardening (so maybe they were soaking up more than we realised!).

But still, we wonder if there were missed opportunities. In the thousands of conversations about fruit we’ve had over the years, many have focused on precious childhood fruit memories.

And so many of our Grow Great Fruit members tell us they’re keen to engage their kids with their fruit trees. We’ve been wondering, what are the best ways to foster a lasting bond between kids and gardening?

Here are some ideas for how to ignite kids’ passion for gardening through engaging activities and hands-on experiences. We’d also LOVE to hear your suggestions, please pop them in the comments below.

Getting kids excited about fruit gardening

Involving kids in the orchard isn’t just about them helping; it’s also an opportunity to cultivate their curiosity. One approach we missed was turning our orchard into an interactive learning space.

Incorporating stories into “work” can spark the imagination, immersing them in the world of fruits and plants. Let’s explore how a touch of storytelling could kindle your kids’ interest.

  • Create an enchanting narrative around your orchard, transforming it into a magical land where fruits come to life. Share this tale with the kids, making them feel like adventurers in a living storybook.

Fruit-friendly plants for little gardeners

As commercial orchardists, our orchard is planted and managed with a focus on yield and quality. However, if you consider the perspective of young gardeners, it might make sense to opt for fruit varieties that cater to their tastes and preferences.

Berries, for instance, are not only vibrant and appealing but also relatively easy to handle. Here are some ideas for how the choice of fruit varieties could be more tailored to their engagement:

  • Colorful Berry Bushes: Select vibrant berry varieties like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Kids will be drawn to the bold colors and tasty rewards.
  • Mini Fruit Trees: Opt for dwarf fruit tree varieties, enabling children to witness the entire growth process, from blossoms to harvest, on a manageable scale.

Involving kids in fruit garden care

Are there ways you can transform the times your kids lend a hand into opportunities for them to take ownership?

Instead of just asking them to help, maybe you could assigned them specific areas to care for. These mini patches could foster a sense of responsibility and pride in their contributions.

Ways to think about creating designated spaces for each child:

  • Ownership Patches: Allocate small sections of the orchard exclusively to each child. Allow them to plant, water, and care for their designated area, cultivating a sense of responsibility and pride.
  • Insect Friends: Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs and butterflies. Educate kids about their role in pollination and pest control, creating a harmonious ecosystem.

Educational opportunities in the garden

Your garden can be an excellent outdoor classroom for kids. Structure explorations that encourage them to unravel the mysteries of nature around them.

Think of it as a plant-based treasure hunt where curious minds learn through hands-on experience.

  • Design “plant detective” quests that involve finding specific plants, insects, or natural phenomena in the orchard. Encourage kids to ask questions and share their findings, promoting curiosity and learning.
  • Provide each child with a journal to record observations, sketches, and questions about their gardening experiences. This activity enhances their observational and writing skills.

From garden to table: teaching kids about harvest and nutrition

Take the journey from planting to eating a step further by organizing harvest parties. Show the kids the entire process and help them understand the connection between cultivation, nutrition, and food enjoyment.

These experiences could nurture their appreciation for gardening and healthy eating habits.

  • Organise seasonal harvest parties where kids gather the fruits they’ve grown. Include games, storytelling, and fruit-based treats, reinforcing the connection between cultivation and consumption.
  • Host mini cooking sessions where children use the harvested fruits to create simple, delicious recipes. This hands-on activity sparks their interest in healthy eating.

Encouraging questions and exploration

Equip the kids with tools for exploration in the garden. Encourage conversations about insects, plants, and the natural world.

These discoveries can encourage curiosity and exploration, paving the way for deeper connections and learning experiences.

  • Nature Explorer Kits: Assemble kits with magnifying glasses, nature guides, and containers for collecting specimens. Encourage kids to explore and inquire about the various elements in the orchard.

Garden adventures and imaginative play

Your garden can be more than just a place of work – it can be a canvas for imaginative play and discovery. Introduce themed days like “Pirate Day” or “Explorer Day” to combine education with adventure.

Engage the kids in activities that turn your garden into an imaginative playground, where they can learn, explore, and have fun.

  • Organize themed days such as “Pirate Day” or “Fairy Garden Day,” allowing kids to engage in imaginative play while exploring the orchard in a new light.
  • Provide art supplies for creating garden-inspired crafts. From leaf rubbings to making nature-inspired sculptures, these activities encourage creativity.

Acknowledging children’s contributions

Recognise the value of involving kids in gardening by celebrating their contributions. Look for ways to acknowledge their involvement in meaningful ways.

  • Personalized Garden Signs: Have kids design and decorate signs for their designated garden patches. This tangible recognition makes them feel valued and encourages ongoing engagement.
  • Annual Orchard Exhibition: Host an annual event where kids can showcase their gardening projects, sharing their growth and accomplishments with family and friends.

Lifelong Connections

Looking back, we realise that fostering a love for gardening in kids is more than just involving them in the tasks. It’s about creating an environment that nurtures their curiosity, imagination, and sense of ownership.

As the children who once helped us have embraced gardening as adults, we’re inspired to pass on the lessons we’ve learned: that gardening can sow seeds of imagination that may just shape their future lives.

Happy gardening as a family!

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