#LifeLongLearning: Food Security
Teaching Children How To Garden in Any Space

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

~Chinese Proverb

Maasai loves shopping day!
Making children a part of the shopping process helps to encourage an oppenness to different foods and a sense of food security.

Including children in the process of securing food for the family improves emotional stability through a heightened sense of food security. Taking children along on shopping trips and teaching them how to make healthy eating choices are skills that will not only keep minds and bodies healthy but generations to come will also adopt these ideals.

However, if your child is already a little older and has developed some eating habits that you would like to improve, gardening is an EASY way to encourage kids to expand their eating horizons! Who can bear to watch a pepper or tomato grow without wanting a nibble? There is something quite empowering in learning how to grow one's own food. In addition, with the number of food deserts in the United States urban areas, these ideas can be adopted in the smallest of living spaces. NO CHILD MUST SUCCUMB TO THE EATING CHOICES MADE FOR THEM THROUGH POOR OFFERINGS AT LOCAL GROCERY STORES. This information is highly critical in the areas of fresh produce where prices continue to soar in the face of drought and greedy natural and organic suppliers and markets. Unfortunately, the focus remains on capitalism. I'm happy to help teach you how to provide good whole food for your own family! Nothing tastses better than fresh herbs!


Here are a few "small space" gardening ideas that anyone can do with VERY LITTLE cost. You can even regenerate food from scraps! I have tried many of these ideas and I can't tell you how exciting it can be to actually see such hard work pay off with such delicious benefits!


Organic lettuce can cost as much as $4.99 pound. Unfortunatly, my family only likes lettuce on a "cycle-like" basis. We eat tons of it or ignore it. I thought it would be great to have lettuce available and fresh according to our eating habits (because buying it and letting it go to waste is too expensive). So I decided to try to grow the greens we regularly eat and then "harvest" what we need when we need it. Without assistance in tilling a garden area in the yard, I needed to find something I could use to create a small space growing area I could easily handle. Based on Bottle Tower Garden ideas I found on YouTube that involve growing with 2-liter bottles, I created a vertical garden using 5 gallon jugs I found from dumpster diving.

Grant and Tyler's father cut the drainage holes in the containers using his electric drill. BE CAREFUL CUTTING THESE HOLES. This plastic is very hard and can produce pretty tough pieces when shattered. I mixed organic potting soil with Epsom Organic garden food and cut holes in the bottoms. Then, gently placed seeds in the holes cut on the sides. The holes on the bottom allow for water to drip down through the garden. It even requires less water to feed a larger space.


Shoots began coming up right away! The combination of good potting soil and a "greenhouse" like enironment helps to encourage fast rooting and good growth:


The plant took off with the moist weather of the early spring but it must be regularly tended too in very hot climates to avoid drying.


The beauty of this system is that it can be done in any small sapce and it takes little water because the water drains down through the top and filters through the entire system through gravity. The enclosed plastic also keeps the environment moist. A top jug can be used and filled with sand to serve as a filter for rain contaminants. See the YouTube video for more great ideas!


This is fun because the lettuce grows so quickly! Save the scraps from your lettuce (carrots and other vegetables will work, too!) Set the bottom in a shallow pan of water and freshen it every day. Shoots will begin to grow overnight. After 5-7 days, replant into soil so the plant can take in the nutrients it needs to thrive and grow! I use an Earthbox and have created an family size salad garden that will allow us to harvest on a regular basis. Allowing some plants to "go to seed" will produce new seeds for planting so the cycle can continue. Plant every 2-4 weeks in order to maintain a regular harvest of tender baby greens for salads! Yummy!!!


The scraps are saved from the lettuce used for the day's meal. I gently rubbed the bottoms to spur regenration.


New tender shoots are visible within 24 hours!


After 5-7 days, transplant into soil so the regenerated leaves can get the nutrients they need to continue growing! I use Earthbox Garden Systems because I can control the potting medium used. The shoots could also simply be placed outside in a sunny spot or in a smaller container and set in the kitchen window (in colder climates).


I cannot wait until spring to begin growing my corn for the season! I am going to plant two rows at a time every 2 weeks so corn will continue to grow throughout the season. ORDER organic corn seed now! Happy gardening!

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Professor Marsha


Marsha Kay Bass, ABD

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