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Get the Kids, Get Outside and Get Healthy with a Family Garden

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Get the Kids, Get Outside and Get Healthy with a Family Garden

This blog was written by Ron Abell, Aramark’s senior executive chef at Fenway Park. Learn more about Ron Abell and Fenway Farms.

Springtime for me means baseball and gardening. Fortunately, I get to experience the best of both worlds, right here at Fenway Park. Fenway is not only home to the nine-time World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, but one of the finest rooftop gardens in all of sports. For me, there’s nothing like cooking with freshly-picked ingredients from the garden, feet away from the kitchen.

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It’s no surprise getting kids to eat their vegetables can be a challenge, however, one of the ways we can teach good habits is rooted in the soil outside our homes. Like here at Fenway Park, growing food in a home garden helps us get outside, connect to the earth, exercise and produce some healthy food.

Here are some tips for making a home garden that much easier for you and your family:

  1. Grow up, not out – Having just a small space doesn’t mean you can’t grow vegetables. Use a trellis (or even a fence!) and select vegetables that will climb it, like pole beans or vining veggies like cucumbers and tomatoes. Even a small space can provide the main ingredients for a tasty gazpacho. You can also use square foot gardening techniques to grow vegetables in a small space without a trellis.

  2. Match your vegetables to your resources – Do you have a balcony or porch instead of a yard? You may be surprised at how much you can grow in just a couple pots. Try cherry or bush tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or herbs. Short on sun? If you don’t have the six hours of daily sun most vegetables prefer, you can still grow salad greens like leaf lettuce or arugula, leafy greens like spinach or kale, and many herbs. One rule of (green) thumb is that if we grow a plant for the fruit or the root, it usually needs full sun, but if we grow it for leaves, stems or buds, partial shade is usually okay.

  3. Choose fun veggie varieties – Have you ever heard of yard long beans or purple beans? What about pear tomatoes or sun gold tomatoes? Allowing kids to pick interesting varieties of traditional veggies can make these healthy foods more appealing to eat. You can even plant a themed garden, filled with plants for that theme. Try a salsa garden (and grow ingredients for fresh salsa).

  4. Don’t stress – Easier said than done, right?  Just place some seeds or seedlings in the ground, water them, and see what happens. Remember, plants want to grow. A low maintenance garden might not provide as high a yield as one that’s more tended to, but it will still provide healthy, fresh vegetables.
    Growing your own food, whether in your backyard, in a community garden or in a pot – can help kids develop healthy eating habits and actually enjoy their veggies! 

Calling Community Heroes!

Want to share your nutrition smarts and help others? The American Heart Association and Aramark have made it simple to teach your community better nutrition and lifestyle habits. Check out heart.org/healthyforlife for details.

This blog was written by Ron Abell. Ron is Aramark’s senior executive chef at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Vegetables and herbs harvested from Fenway Farms, Fenway Park’s rooftop garden, are served in restaurants and concessions throughout the ballpark. For more tips from Aramark Chefs and Dietitians visit FYP365.com.