Gardening lets kids practice caring. At the zoo, we hope kids will grow to care for and about the earth and each other. Tending to plants gives kids first-hand experience in caring for something else.
Gardening is real. It gives kids the chance to do real work and feel a sense of accomplishment. It also allows kids to see, smell, taste and feel real things in ways not possible through television, computers or books.
Gardening is magic. There's nothing like the moment when a budding gardener first sees a sprout where once a seed was planted.
"As a child, I never understood why my father loved gardening, but I helped him anyway. I could sense the pleasure he got, and it was great to spend time with him. As an adult, I think it seems natural to keep up the tradition. Today, I love growing vegetables and sharing the experience with my children." Keith, Riverside, Father of Two
"Early childhood is the time to prepare the soil." Rachel Carson, Ecologist
All you need is a little space, a little sun, a little time...
If you don't have a backyard, try some of the many vegetables that do well in planters on balconies or porches. Some varieties have been developed just for this purpose.
...and a little patience. When gardening, most kids enjoy getting dirty and ignoring any plans you may have developed. If you have a need for order, set aside a "kids only" plot.
One mom describes gardening with her two-year-old: "My cherished springtime planting ritual turned into a free-for-all of flying dirt and crushed seedlings, my son joyfully wielding his miniature trowel."