Whether it’s a garden box or plot of land, nurturing plants and watching them grow connects children with local foods, giving them a sense of fulfillment and coping skills for life’s challenges. Each of us learns responsibility and faithfulness through our activities. Gardens allow our children an opportunity to invest in a project, wait for their project to change, increase and finally give back to them. The growing season outdoors helps young children to see the seasons change. For teenagers, it connects them to the life cycle of the plants. Our children plant the seeds, watch them sprout; leaves form, and in the fall they enjoy harvesting, and then our children can enjoy uprooting the plants for composting.
If you live in an apartment, an indoor garden can be in a glass jar, a fish bowl or a small pot. Strawberries, peppers and flowers make for nice indoor gardens. Outdoors, potatoes grow in just about any kind of soil. Just cut a russet into quarters and plant four to six inches deep. Water well and when the plant produces flowers, it’s time to dig it up. If your children lose interest, the potatoes can still be harvested in the winter. Allow one to one and a half feet for each potato plant. Squash of any kind are also good for children, as they will produce a prolific harvest. Unlike the potatoes, the squash being an above-ground vegetable gives children the visual encouragement they need.
Community garden plots can be rented in various areas for families who want to grow their own food.
- Central Park Community Garden
- Sumner Street Community Garden
- Lents Community Garden
- Faith United Methodist Church, Community Garden
- Peace Community Garden
- Brentwood Community Garden
- Furey Community Garden
- Camas Community Garden
- Mt Tabor Community Garden
- Grow Portland Community Garden
- Colonel Sumner Community Garden
- Woodland Community Garden
- Sellwood Community Garden
Learning gardens are also available for students to learn gardening skills. Learning gardens may donate their food to pantries.
- Learning Gardens Lab
- Urban Bees & Gardens
- PCC Rock Creek Learning Garden
At the end of the day, our children not only harvest their flowers, fruits or vegetables, they also have in their harvest new skills and talents, such as: planting, weeding, cultivating, harvesting, composting and project management; and also: responsibility, faithfulness, patience, gentleness and goodness.
For gardening tips and resources, see the following links:
- Get Started Gardening: 10 Steps to Start a Vegetable Garden
- Oregon Garden Challenge: Free Seeds and Ongoing Information to Grow Healthy Food at Home
- Get Answers From the Oregon State University Extension Service
- Planting Dates in Oregon
- Oregon Department of Education : School Garden Food Safety : Farm to School and School Gardens
- Community Gardens Toolkit
- Fall and Winter Gardening