“A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it, than by the woods and swamps that surround it.” – Henry David Thoreau
As a child, I spent hours on end outside. At times with neighbourhood friends or family, but mostly on my own. I relished exploring the outdoors and using my imagination. Catching bugs, climbing trees, digging in the dirt, playing in puddles were daily activities. Family adventures included nature walks in the forest, camping in beautiful Northern Ontario settings, and swimming at Lake Superior beaches. Looking back, it’s no surprise why today I practice naturopathic medicine which has a deep respect for the power of nature and its healing potential.
One of my favourite memories growing up was playing in my Grandmother’s backyard. She had a beautiful vegetable, fruit and herb garden. There were always plenty of friendly creatures to commune with such as lady bugs, birds and butterflies. Watching the plants grow through the seasons a delight. Each visit to the garden yielded a new stage of growth. I helped my Grandmother with tending to the plants as they grew by planting, watering, pulling weeds and happily harvesting when the time was just right. With an organic garden, you could pull up a carrot, fresh out of the soil, wash it off with the garden hose and eat it. Nothing beats that level of freshness! My Grandmother introduced me to different edible greens, berries and flowers. For a child, a garden brings great wonders, experiences and continually provides fresh, healthy snacks! I have great reverence for these times as it built a foundation for a healthy future and set me on my lifestyle and career path that I enjoy today.
No matter what your living situation, there is always a way to connect with nature through growing food. This experience is so important for each of us and to share with the children in our lives. Whether you live in a house, condo, apartment, you can always keep it simple by growing potted herbs in a window. You cannot help but feel great joy when a child shows such excitement at the first sign of a new sprout arising from the soil. If you have more space and ambition, consider a planter on your balcony or a backyard garden. In my experience, the biggest barrier to starting a project like this is the perception of hard work. However, the reality is that it’s much simpler than you may have imagined, and the benefits of fresh food, nature-consciousness, stress reduction and immune boosting are well worth the effort.