Like many city dwellers, we lack access to outdoor space in terms of a backyard, balcony or even a windowsill! So when my daughter expressed an interest in gardening, I was stumped. Luckily, I came across the Ruth Rea Family Garden at the NY Botanical Garden and we were blown away by the wide variety of activities for kids and families. There is a wonderful Children’s Gardening Program where instructors and volunteers lead children in digging, planting, tending, and harvesting plants and produce. Garden Sprouts is geared to 3-5year old crowd while Garden Crafters is for an older group (6-12). These programs run once a week for 6 weeks in the Spring, Summer and Fall. The younger group explores the garden, makes crafts and digs for worms, while the older ones actually plant a garden with flowers, vegetables and herbs and learn to prepare recipes from what they’ve grown.
Starting daily from April-October from 1:30-6:00pm there is a family drop-in program called Dig! Plant! Grow! Each week has a different theme (Wild Wiggly Worms, Salad Days, Sweet & Stinky, Pickle Me and many more). The garden also has an amazing partnership with Mario Batali who has an Edible Garden area which features much of the fresh produce used in his restaurants. There are several Family Dinners during the summer hosted by Mario’s team who prepare a culinary feast and join you at the table. In September, you won’t want to miss The Edible Garden Festival Weekend, which will feature demonstrations by Mario and other top chefs.
During our visit, my daughters dug, planted and watered radishes and violas while learning about all aspects of gardening. We explored the different areas of the Family Garden including a Global Garden space where produce is grown specific to several countries. The staff and volunteers, led by Toby Adams, Manager of the Garden, were extremely friendly and clearly passionate about their work. In fact, many of the 90 volunteers started out as participants in the children’s program! The children in the programs seemed completely engrossed and excited about what they were doing, so much so, that my daughters are already asking when we’ll be back.
The Family Garden is worth more than just one trip this season. It truly gives city kids a chance to not only get their hands dirty (and which kid doesn’t like that?) but it’s a great opportunity for them learn about the benefits of growing and eating healthy, fresh food.
For more information check out http://www.nybg.org/edu/kids-teens/gardening-program.php.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.
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