One sure way to make your home a happier place for the whole family is to create your own garden.You’ll save money on groceries, get exercise, eat more healthily, improve your environment and learn new skills – all while having fun with the children.
“There’s nothing better to do with your children and your grandchildren than creating your own vegetable garden,” said Jeff Sousa, who has worked in horticulture for almost 50 years.
“You are getting outside, you’re getting fresh air, you’re getting Vitamin D, you’re getting your children away from the computer and the laptop.
“It’s just a fun thing to do and believe me the children get a kick out of it.”
Even for those with little experience, it’s easy to start.
Mr. Sousa explained: “The first thing you would do is sit down with your family at the dining table and say, hey guys, what do you love to eat?”
“Children love growing things like cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrots, watermelon – fun stuff. And then they see that it doesn’t just come from the grocery store, but you can actually grow it – and it tastes better too!”
“For the person starting out, you are best off buying seedlings from a garden centre. But when you get more adventurous, you buy packs of seeds because then you can grow some more unique things. There are thousands of different types of tomatoes: purple ones, yellow ones, all different types of varieties. It’s amazing.”
Through his work as an organiser of the Ag Show, Mr. Sousa has discovered children are also learning more about gardening at school.
“One of the biggest classes at the Ag Show is children entering things like parsley, thyme and peppermint in recyclable tins,” he said.
“We have to thank the teachers at many of the island’s schools for encouraging them to take part. These children are getting their interest from their teacher and then taking it home to their parents or their grandparents.”
Kevin Santucci, who runs the Grow, Eat, Save programme, said gardening is also a key way to teach children about sustainability.
“Bermuda and the rest of the world are suffering in the area of sustainable living due to lack of knowledge pertaining to their environmental issues,” Mr. Santucci said.
“Yet if we are going to see a turnaround and a change for the good in the future, we must be willing to teach our children about sustainability and the importance of growing their own food on land and sea.”
Mr Santucci said starting your own home garden teaches children a value lesson of environmental preservation.”
He said: “This is the first pillar of life that needs to be learned by all: how to appreciate and preserve the environment.”
If you have no room for a vegetable garden, you can still grow in containers, or even ask a neighbour if they would allow you to use their land in return for a share of the produce.