Start Gardening and Enrich Your Health

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” humanitarian and actress Audrey Hepburn once said. Planting seeds in any garden  provides many benefits that stretch beyond just the nutrition received from eating more fruits and vegetables.

Gardening can be helpful for people of all ages, but can be especially beneficial for the overall well-being of children. Having kids participate in gardening tasks like planting, weeding, composting and harvesting provides many rewarding impacts for their mental and physical health. Studies have shown that students who were involved in gardening programs at school had an increase in choosing healthier foods, like fruits and vegetables, over less healthy options for snacking.

Some gardening tasks, such as digging, raking and turning compost piles, are activities that promote healthier choices for children like increasing their exercise. Stress relief, improved memory and concentration, and feeling empowered to take care of one’s own health have also been shown to be benefits when children partake in gardening.

Fruit and vegetable crops can be grown year-round in North Texas. Having fresh, home-grown produce throughout the year can be very beneficial to families that garden. Typically, we grow in two main seasons – Warm Season and Cool Season. Warm Season crops generally grow between April and November while Cool Season crops are grown between September and April. Below is a list of produce items by season.

Warm Season
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Blackberries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Figs
  • Ginger
  • Grapes
  • Horseradish
  • Melons
  • Okra
  • Peanuts
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
Cool Season
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Collards
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

As kids begin to learn more about growing their own fruits and vegetables, they will become excited to eat the produce they grow. TAFB’s Kitchen Garden Cooking School classes are a great way to learn how to prepare garden-fresh produce. Participants leave with three delicious recipes for the chosen vegetable of the month and a growing guide that will help every gardener have more success.

Here’s a delicious recipe that includes vegetables from both the warm and cool seasons. It could be made in late spring with onions, garlic, peppers and cucumbers from your backyard garden! The recipe has bursts of sweetness from the orange, fresh crisp bell peppers, refreshing cucumbers and a savory garlic and balsamic dressing.

How You Can Get Involved

Growing an edible garden can have a positive impact on children. Gardens teach them to be knowledgeable about nutrition and empower them to make healthier choices tomorrow. You can register for events and find out more information at tarrantareafoodbank.eventbrite.com.

By Lexy Vorhies
Community Food Systems Intern, Tarrant Area Food Bank