{Happy Earth Day!}

{photos by Dasha Wright and Robert Jacobs}

Up north, we wait a long time for garden season, but this year the wait seemed even longer. Last summer, as my belly grew round with the babe, I spent hours and hours tending our small community garden plot, laughing with wonder as the little one inside me kicked and squirmed. When I finally met our giggly girl, Greta, I couldn't wait to take her back there to see our garden with her own blue eyes. 

She was born in November, and the garden sat under a pile of snow for months on end. We'd walk by often during these long winter days, checking for peeks of green, but still the snow fell. 

Finally, five months to the day after Greta was born, we got a rare April day so warm that we headed outside with her hands and feet bare. As she is everywhere in life, she was eager, engaged, reaching out for everything with her curious hands, delighting in the textures and colors of the world around her.  I was thrilled that this place I love seemed just as full as wonder and discovery for her, with more curiosities to offer her than anything she'd seen inside four walls.

We spent that day at the house of our friends Robert and Dasha,  both photographers, who captured Greta's first earth day on film in their own sprawling gardens ~  those first moments as her bare feet touched the soil, her tiny hands reaching for the green shoots of spring onions, and even the I'm pooped mamma tears that ended our garden play-date before I wiped her muddy toes and tucked her into the corner of their plush couch for her afternoon nap. 

It's a rare child who doesn't delight in the texture of warm, damp earth between their toes, the dance of poppies nodding in the wind, and the close attention of their parents sitting side by side with them in the soil.  I wrote about how and why to make your garden a special place for your babes in Mothering Magazine, but in case you missed it, here are my favorite three tips for gardening with a child of any age:

Schedule Garden Time
kids thrive on schedules and predictability.  Schedule a time each day or week to spend in the garden with your child.  Your little one will recognize it as a special bonding time and place where you work as a team to grow healthy foods together.

Build a Food Vocabulary
Babies and young children love the sound of their mother’s voice.  Talk to them while you garden; explain what you are doing and give names to the tools you use and veggies you grow, helping them build their nutrition and food vocabulary season by season.

Designate a Bed In the Garden
No matter how young your little gardener is, pick a patch of soil just for them where the rules and rows of gardening don’t apply. Throw caution to the wind and let your littles dig and experiment at their whim, giving them a sense of independence and pride in what they grow.

There's never been a better time to get started gardening as a family than on Earth Day. You don't need a sprawling garden or any fancy gardening gear, just a few seeds, and a pot, and a little one you love. For more tips on getting started, here's my post on five gardening basics {click here} to grow on. 

Happy Earth Day!

Special thanks to Robert and Dasha for sharing their little oasis and beautiful photographs with us. *


aida mollenkamp said...

Beautiful photos of two beautiful ladies! Happy Earth Day!

Christine said...

I love this :) This has really inspired me, and my husband is creating a little area in our backyard with nice grass where our daughter can be near us while we garden. And she had a lot of fun discovering and touching fresh oregano, basil, and rosemary the other day. So much fun!

sarah said...

Thanks Aida! I miss our good times with kiddos in the garden. Maybe we need to collaborate on something new soon.

Christine, I'm thrilled this inspired you! I can't wait to hear and read about your adventures with Luci Belle in the garden on your blog! She's a an absolute beauty!

This is where I write my thoughts said...

Oh Sarah!! What great photos!! And the beautiful words you have written made me tear up a bit. Great is beautiful...just like her momma!!!

We miss you!

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.