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Where to Teach Your Children Well(ness): In the Garden & At The Farmer's Market

By Shannon Sarna


Passover is behind us, and spring has truly sprung. Hopefully your bulbs have bloomed, the weather is warming and a bounty of green veggies will be appearing at a farmer's market near you any day.

The first day of the farmers market has always been a bright spot in the month of May for me. My daughter and I would walk to the farmers market and excitedly gaze at the asparagus, fresh herbs, ramps and the colorful first pints of sweet strawberries.

And last year, after moving out of Jersey City to a suburb, we planted our very own garden in the backyard. It was a special way to welcome the spring in our new house -- planting string beans, tomatoes, herbs and cucumbers. 

My daughter has always been an enthusiastic participant in growing fruits and vegetables, even before we had our own garden. At least 1 or 2 times each month from May through September, we would drive to local farms and pick-our-own berries, string beans, tomatoes, peaches and whatever other produce was in season. And visit with some goats of course, too, one of my absolute favorite animals.

Both my daughters are versatile, healthy eaters who gobble up kale chips and cauliflower as much as they love ice cream and cookies. A lot of people say this is just luck, and perhaps that is true. But I think exposing kids early to fresh, local, diverse produce, teaching them how it grows and encouraging them to be part of the process can only help encourage them to try new things and “eat the rainbow.” And of course we know that early, healthy eating habits and education can be the best defense against heart disease, diabetes and other health issues (or, you know, just good genes). 

My daughter will still say “yuck” to tomatoes (even though she loves picking them off the vines of our garden), but will beg for raw string beans as a snack, a trick she learned out in the pick-your-own fields of Alstede Farm, where she would snack as she picked.

Here are a few of my favorite spring recipes to enjoy this season. To healthy eating and abundant growing!

Strawberry spinach quinoa salad from The Nosher

Grilled chicken with strawberry cucumber salsa from Kveller

Ramp pesto spaghetti from Epicurious

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