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The Gardening Homeschooler

“It is not economically feasible,” said my friend, “to grow your own food.”

That may be so for the average family, but when we’re growing food, we’re also growing kids.  We and our five children, ages 8-18,  raise pumpkins, spinach, plums, asparagus, tomatoes, and more.  We enjoy the food, but also are hugely enriched by the work of raising it. 

The children learn how to plant seeds, and about the immense amount of work that needs to be done to improve the soil.  They know about thinning, crop rotation, irrigation, and pollination.  They understand frost damage in spring and how to protect crops in the fall.  They have learned about canning, freezing, and dehydrating.  They compost and understand the value of chicken manure.  They know the names and habits of most of the common weeds, and even which ones are edible and which ones toxic. 

This in-depth knowledge, garnered from our own little plot of ground, translates into a deeper understanding of commercial farmers, organic living, pioneer families, and most of mankind throughout the world.  It also fosters a deeper appreciation for God’s beautiful and productive earth and teaches how to be sensible (rather than activist) stewards of the world.

Besides all this, the children learn to work, to be outside, to sweat, to be productive, to be confident, and to continue until the job is done.  They learn the importance of planning, foresight, and research.  

And they learn that real food tastes good, and that they can be producers rather than consumers, givers in the grand scheme of things rather than takers.

Perhaps the average family would be better off, financially, not growing their own food (although I really doubt that).  It’s certainly obvious that our family would have to pay a fortune to have someone else teach our children all these things so effectively without the help of our gardens and orchard.

We are incredibly grateful for the gift of gardening.  It enhances our lives and learning immeasurably.  Furthermore, it allows us to understand, in some small measure, what life was meant to be like:  living in a garden (without weeds and pests, mind you!) praising God.

This post is  linked to Homestead Revival’s Preparedness Challenge and is part of the Carnival of Homeschooling.


  1. Jenn4him says:

    Even from our very small plot, we have gained a joy of growing things. My daughter, especially, is working hard to get her daddy enough cherry tomatoes for one salad from our 2 plants!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, the size of the plot doesn’t affect the kid’s learning and joy much. We’ve found that, too. 🙂

  2. Briana says:

    I love this post! I’ve been feeling discouraged by how much didn’t work out in the garden this year. I like your perspective much better.

    Thanks for sharing your bug spray recipe. I’m going to try it this week!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, I’ve found this perspective helps me, too. And I hope the bug spray works for you.

      Annie Kate

      Here’s the natural bugspray link for anyone else who has bug problems:

  3. Lisa says:

    Love your perspective and the shots of your garden are really inspirational. We garden, too! We were over run with hoppers this year- they have really annihilated our leafy veggies!

  4. Heidi says:

    Eloquently spoken. Your children will be so grateful for the lessons and love.

  5. I have crunched the numbers. You cannot save money by buying your food at the store. A few years ago my electric bill jumped up from all the canning I had done. I called the power company to get some figures that helped me determine how much it actually cost me to can the produce I was putting up. Even adding in the price of the lids, I still came out way ahead than buying beans in the can!
    Oh, BTW, what else would my kids do all day if they weren’t in the garden? Play video games? Watch TV? Surf the Web? No thank you.
    Great post.

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