Here are two of my favorite benefits of gardening with children (aside from enjoying the benefits of our labors!) which have truly long-lasting benefits on their health, both immediate and long term!
Immunity and allergies
Gardening with your kids is not only safe and fun, it is incredibly beneficial to immune development. Children get exposed to bacteria in the soil, which helps to create a delicate immune balance. These microbes help their bodies react appropriately to viruses and bacteria that cause infection, while not over-reacting to benign substances like food, pollen, dander and other allergens. There is a significant decrease in the development of allergies when a child gets healthy microflora exposure starting at birth and into the 2nd year of life. A continued exposure to microbes through dirt and cultured food is essential to a healthy gut and immune system.
No more picky eaters
Children develop a very diverse palate when they know where their food is coming form. Studies show that kids develop a greater acceptance and awareness of flavor and texture. Dr. Green, in his book, Feeding Baby Green, reports a 75% increased interest in vegetables when a child takes part in growth of that vegetable, from seed to plate.
As the summer unfolds, may you and your children enjoy the glorious Northwest sunshine in your gardens, growing immunity & good food habits right alongside those tomatoes and cucumbers!