Google+ Authentic Parenting: Connecting To Nature (rerun)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Connecting To Nature (rerun)

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Many of the choices we have made in life were based on a desire to live more authentically, closer to nature and the nature of man. The decision to swap the stressed Belgian life for a relaxed lifestyle, staying home instead of working outside the home, and unschooling all brought us closer to the essence.
Finding a pace of life that is guided by the rising of the sun, the following of the seasons, and the weather conditions made us more connected, to ourselves and as a family.

Something I find very important is for my daughter to be connected to the things in everyday life. To know them, so they’re just a part of her. Like where the food comes from, how her clothes are made... so she may take nothing in life for granted, but also find a great joy in the little things.

One thing we have done to establish this connection to nature and life is try to cultivate our own vegetables I have this far-fetched dream of being self-sufficient, but we’re not nearly there.
Our first efforts started in Cameroon before the little one was born, but had little result, as we had a huge problem of theft and bad soil. After her birth (we had moved again) we gave up until we moved yet another time - to Ivory Coast. Here we did our first real attempts to have a vegetable patch that could sustain us for a big part, or at least fill the days where we didn’t have access to fresh vegetables. So we successfully grew lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, celery, leeks, zucchini and aubergines. The daughter always tagged along to pick some basil or chives, to water the seedlings, or to thin out the young sprouts.

Upon arrival here in DR Congo, there was already a vegetable garden, as vegetables are scarce and very expensive, so here, being self-sufficient isn’t just a dream of folly, but a necessity.
However the vegetable garden wasn’t continuously replanted, so we put our shoulders under it and started sowing.
We eat nearly daily from the garden, and each time, I pick the vegetables with the little one. She loves to carry the basket while I pick the ripe beans or aubergines. She did some sowing with the two young guys who also live in the communal house with us and loved getting her hands dirty to tuck the little grains away. She single handedly planted some passion fruit cuttings and three pumpkin plants.

As a little side note: we do have gardeners to help us take on this tremendous job. When my daughter does the planting, she goes with one of them (I am there too, but I just let them play), who is really gentle and sweet and explains her each step he takes to her.

You don’t need a lot of space to cultivate some of your own vegetables, and you don’t need to aim for self-sufficiency immediately either. A few pots in the kitchen can harbor herbs, a pot on your terrace can grow a little shrub. Just being around these home grown vegetables and herbs and fruits will make you and your child reconnect with the basics.
Even if your child is still really small, they can be a part of the sowing and harvesting, albeit in a carrier.

If a child sees the care it takes to grow a vegetable and takes pleasure in helping it grow, battles over eating your greens will diminish. It is when there is no connection between the person and the earth that we are wasteful and lack gratitude.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn't think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family's simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don't like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer's Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer's Market has become her son's classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment's hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature's Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter's blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it's a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children's generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family's food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don't have a garden? "You can still grow food!" says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she's doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer's MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it's important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn't Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it's never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse "bean teepee" and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin' (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.



  1. Wow, what an amazing way to grow! Our little operation is quite small, but I dream of being able to do what you are doing one day. Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

  2. It is so true that having kiddos help grow their own veggies makes arguments about eating said veggies diminish. Kieran LOVES to eat anything from our garden - spinach, peas, beans, etc. What a wonderful way to share with little ones the wonder of food!

  3. I think that's so cool that you have to be self-sufficient now, so you're making it work. I keep thinking we should be more efficient in our gardening so we'd have a more ample harvest. But it's all a process, right?

  4. I love how you make the connection between gratitude and being involved in the growing of our food. This is such an important point!

  5. Lauren, yes, I think it is a learning process, wit ups and downs, as I said in the article, we have been 'cultivating' for years, ever since we moved to Africa. However, having to be self sufficient is a very big motivator in spending time in the vegetable patch. Now, I get bored of the little choice we have, so I go into the garden and give love to the new seedlings. Contemplate how delicious they'll be. I look over the seeds we have and think: wow, I could really eat this or that and then just go out to plant them.

  6. "It is when there is no connection between the person and the earth that we are wasteful and lack gratitude." I love this! It's also the way we feel and why gardening has become such an important part of our family.

    Very inspiring post! Thanks!

  7. Wow, you are leading an incredible life! I need to visit your blog more often.

    I totally agree that children can and do learn even at a young age just by being involved in little ways in the garden. My son sat in the yard with me last year as I planted. This year he is big enough to dig in the dirt, and he uses his little shovel while I turn the earth. It is a great time to bond, and I think he learns from it.

  8. Wonderful! I totally agree that knowing where our resources come from (food, water, clothing, etc.) is so very important, and as a result, makes it difficult to take those things for granted. I'm enjoying picturing your garden and your little one helping you pick veggies to eat each day.

  9. How fabulous to GO TO THE GARDEN to choose what you are having for dinner! Sure beats going to the freezer!

  10. This is so inspiring! And what an amazing, valuable lesson to teach your daughter: respect for the food we consume and the outside world around us!

  11. Sweet thoughts on gratitude. I agree. I think we would all treat the world with more respect with that perspective.

  12. That reminds me that I need to go in the garden and shovel som dirt... Then I'll be able to plant carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Strawberries are already planted !

  13. thanks, now you made me want strawberries!

  14. Mmh, I planted Mara des Bois, they taste like fraises des bois, are juicy and big (but not oversized) and they come all summer long, until the first frost.
    Can't you find strawberry plants ? You can always plant seeds, but it will take longer... I guess with the weather you have, it doesn't matter too much, you can plant whenever you like ?


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