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This chapter explores several lessons & activities in which your child will:


Explore and connect with different reasons for gardening
Learn about the cultural connection to food, and explore fruits and vegetables from different cultures around the world
Reflect on the life cycle of the garden-grown produce
Practice a new way of eating
Explore different senses by interacting with their food

Section 1

Section 1: We Garden Because . . . 


This section is a thought activity designed to make your child think more deeply about why gardening is important in the first place - to them, their community, and their world. If they get stuck coming up with ideas, offer up some of the reasons in the list below:

Additional answers to guided question: Why should we garden?

Learning what it takes to grow food
Appreciate where food comes from
Engages all the senses
Encourages healthy eating
Caring for another being
Dirt won’t hurt - working outside and with your hands is good for you! 
Environmental responsibility
Family bonding
Learning to be patient 

Deeper reasoning into why we garden: 

Plants are the sustaining force of life on this planet.  Early humans relied on the bounty of nature as hunters and gatherers. As more complex civilizations evolved, agriculture emerged (or, arguably, civilizations grew because agricultural practices evolved).  Agriculture is the science and practice of raising crops, also known as farming.  Growing plants both for survival and for profit is a shared experience across history. Most humans in most parts of the world were directly involved in some aspect of agriculture right up until the Industrial Revolution.

As technology advanced during the Industrial Revolution, and continues to advance in the present day, the amount of food farmers can produce from their fields has increased, so a smaller percentage of the population is directly involved in the production of food crops.  One positive result of this shift has been time dedicated to the development of other technologies, as well as the cultivation of other pursuits (art, music, literature, etc). However, one of the drawbacks is a lack of understanding of how our food is produced, and a decreasing appreciation for the interwoven cycles of nature.

School and home gardens give students the opportunity to participate in an important historical activity, and to experience the emotions of success and failure of growing their own crops on a small scale.

Check their work - for this activity your child are encouraged to record their thoughts in their field journal.

Section 2

Section 2: What about other cultures?

Key Activity: An exploration of different cultural fruits and vegetables. Encourage them to think about their own culture, and talk to them about the vegetables you ate growing up.

Additional answers to guided question: Why should we garden?

Valley Verde is a Bay Area non profit that grows culturally-appropriate fruit and vegetable seedlings for multi-cultural communities in the South San Francisco Bay Area. Check out their catalog to explore a breadth of unique cultural vegetable seedlings you won’t find anywhere else in the Bay!
Watch Valley Verde’s Inspirational Story Here:

We live in a multicultural world ...

and a great way to engage children in culture is through food. In this activity, children explore different foods that are grown and eaten around the world. The main activity here is to draw and write what they see.

Encourage conversation with your children about different cultural foods. Are they aware of the foods that are specifically important to their cultural or family heritage?

This could be a great place to explore activities around different cultures! Some lesson ideas:

Map activities with where different cultures are located
Student volunteers can bring in different foods from their culture
Explore different traditions and different languages of people around the world

Section 3

Section 3: An Exploration of Our Food

As an opener, you can ask your child to think about: What senses do you use to eat? What are your favorite food flavors? What are your favorite food smells? What does being “mindful” mean to you?

Key Activity materials needed
1. A fruit or vegetable from home, cut up as appropriate into a bite-sized piece
2. A paper towel for any additional mess

Diving deeper into the importance of mindfulness with food

Encouraging children to think about where their food came from, the resources it took to grow them, and truly savor each bite are ways for children to practice mindfulness and appreciation for the foods they eat.


Chefs often talk about how we “eat with our eyes.” That is, usually the first sense engaged when we eat is our sight. We look at a food before we taste it, and foods that are deemed visually attractive (a very subjective topic!) will be more appealing.

By engaging all of our senses and slowing down, mindful eating can create more awareness of our own bodies and the foods that nourish them.

According to scientific research, “mindfulness-based interventions in children and youths hold promise, particularly in relation to improving cognitive performance and resilience to stress.”


When working with children, the practice of mindful eating should be exploratory and engage their curiosity. Take care to not provide guidance for specific foods kids should be eating, protocols for eating, or devalue any foods in particular.

Additional Resources 

Mindfulness in the Garden 

Using Gardening Books as Windows & Mirrors into Culture 

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