The ed­i­ble back­yard: A source for fam­ily meals — and fun

Maryland Independent - - Community -

Have your kids ever asked you where the food they’re eat­ing comes from? It’s a ques­tion many par­ents are an­swer­ing right from their back­yard and porches.

To cre­ate a hands-on ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, many fam­i­lies are trans­form­ing their us­able spa­ces into fruit and veg­etable gar­dens that feed the whole fam­ily, and some­times neigh­bors, too. For the price of a few seeds or seedlings, you can pro­duce fruits and veg­eta- bles that are de­li­cious, safe, eco­nom­i­cal, nu­tri­tious, and fresh-and the best part is, your whole fam­ily can dig in to­gether.

Truly, a life­time of gar­den­ing for your chil­dren can start with a sim­ple seed, and the ben­e­fits are not only health-giv­ing but ed­u­ca­tional as well. Ac­cord­ing to a study con­ducted by Trac­tor Sup­ply Com­pany, 89 per­cent of Amer­i­cans feel their chil­dren need a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of where their food comes from.

“Four years ago, we moved from Los An­ge­les to a small, ru­ral town out­side of Asheville, N.C. with dreams of grow­ing as much of our own food as pos­si­ble,” said Beryl Frohriep of WildRoot­sHomestead. com, a home­steader and Trac­tor Sup­ply Com­pany con­trib­u­tor who re­lies on home­grown food for her fam­ily of four’s plant-based diet. “By grow­ing what we eat, we know what goes into the soil and what comes out of it; our food is fresh, de­li­cious, safe and nu­tri­tion­ally rich. These days, it is my 5-year-old son do­ing much of the har­vest, and I love that we get to learn and grow as a fam­ily by work­ing to­gether out­doors.”

If you’re in­ter­ested in start­ing your own back­yard gar­den, here are a few tips from the ex­perts at Trac­tor Sup­ply Com­pany:

Sim­ply put, plant the veg­eta­bles that your fam­ily likes. If your fam­ily eats a lot of salad, think about plant­ing let­tuces, cu­cum­ber, car­rots, broc­coli, cau­li­flower, radishes and, of course, toma­toes.

It’s also smart to think about the types of meals you cook. Do you stir-fry? Grow bell pep­pers, onions, peas and broc­coli. Do you en­joy Mex­i­can food? Con­sider var­i­ous hot pep­pers and cilantro. Do you cre­ate main dishes from veg­eta­bles? Then pota­toes, squash, egg­plant and spinach might be the way to go.

When plan­ning your gar­den’s veg­eta­bles, con­sider adding some that your house­hold con­sid­ers tol­er­a­ble, but not great. You may find that home­grown fresh­ness in­creases the taste, and that veg­etable just might turn into a fam­ily fa­vorite.

Plant an un­fa­mil­iar veg­etable or two, just for kicks. If it’s not to your lik­ing, give the har­vest to neigh­bors or

To help fam­i­lies spend more time to­gether and max­i­mize their gar­den yield, Trac­tor Sup­ply Com­pany car­ries all the sup­plies a fam­ily needs to grow a gar­den, in­clud­ing mulch, live plants, reg­u­lar and or­ganic seeds, and gar­den tools. The ru­ral lifestyle store hosts gar­den­ing events fea­tur­ing ex­pert ad­vice, spe­cial prod­ucts and seed sta­tions for chil­dren through­out the plant­ing sea­son. Check with your lo­cal Trac­tor Sup­ply store for de­tails on up­com­ing gar­den­ing events. Brand­point

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