Connecting Kids to Food & Nature |Richard Louv |Family Resolution

Let us give thanks for family traditions that start outside. Do you remember summers, lying on your back to watch stars and fireflies through shadowy leaves, while Dad turned hamburgers on the grill? And, what about collecting autumn leaves to press into the biggest thickest book on the shelf?

rusty blackhaw viburnum fall leaves austin texash

Tramping through mystical woods on a foggy day, herding doodlebugs, making little dams. I’ll never forget my childhood astonishment when I opened a cotton boll. “Wow, so that’s where my shirt came from!” I’m just as fascinated now when my “for fun” cotton plant flowers and turns into a puffball.

cotton flower bud austin texas

Internal chaos vanishes when we focus on wonders outside and outside of ourselves.

anole shedding Bee on goldenrod Central Texas Gardener Gulf Fritillary caterpillars on passionvine Central Texas Gardener lady bug pupa on sage leaf Austin Texas

Richard Louv writes: “The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

This week, Richard joins Tom to examine nature-deficit disorder and how it impacts our children physically and emotionally.

Tom Spencer and Richard Louv Central Texas Gardener

In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard tells powerful stories of community and societal interventions that disconnect children from hands-on discovery and interaction outdoors.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

What does that mean for them and for the ecological future? I find it scary that one child he interviewed said that he’d rather be inside, since that’s where the electrical outlets are.

In The Nature Principle, Richard connects to us busy bees, so attached to our various devices that we forget to go outside and actually see a bee! Discover how the “restorative powers of the natural world can boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds.”

The Nature Principle by Richard Louv

On tour, authors and UT associate professors Deborah Paredez and Frank Guridy made an outdoors resolution when their daughter was born.That’s director Ed Fuentes behind the camera.

Paredez & Guridy family vegetable garden Central Texas Gardener

They’d never grown food before. In their dusty lawn, there were no beneficial insects or birds. With a jump start from Randy Jewart of Resolution Gardens, now it’s a backyard feast of food and wildlife discovery for them and daughter Zaya—a creative designer with stick games, too!

Randy Jewart Resolution Gardens vegetable garden design Resolution Gardens before picture garden makeover Resolution Gardens after picture no lawn for vegetables

Watch the whole story!

Mint is an easy one for kids to grow for a snip into winter’s hot chocolate. Watching it sprout roots in a glass of water is super fun!  See how Trisha grows, propagates and dries mint with her favorite varieties.

how to grow, propagate and dry mint central texas gardener

Daphne shares her family’s holiday tradition: pruning their live oak trees where everyone pitched in. Now their healthy, well-shaped trees are a storybook of her family together. By the way, now’s a great time to prune live oaks and red oaks susceptible to oak wilt.

Pruning live oak trees Daphne Richards Central Texas Gardener

Our Facebook friends share their family outdoor and garden traditions. We’d love to hear yours!

Going to a Christmas tree farm to support local farmers. It is so much fun. We pack our hot cocoa, cider, and bundle up. The farms have hay rides and you get off when you find the area you want to search, saw in hand.

We had a garden every summer next to our orchard. Dad let me have my own row (well, 1/2 a row) every spring, and I planted sunflowers, such happy flowers! I swear they were 20 feet tall, at least to me.

My maternal grandparents were homesteaders. They loved the land and passed on that heritage to my mother and me. We have a family tradition from my paternal grandparents to plant irises at every new home. It is a tradition that came down from 4 generations. I too have irises. Black ones that came from my grandmother’s (Verdant Warren) yard.

photo by Tamara Dextre Central Texas Gardener

Driving to Big Bend in the sleet for the 8th straight year with our girls. They like camping over gardening so far!

Every year my kids and I get a Christmas tree. But not an everyday Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We started a tradition of getting a different kind of “tree” about 6 years ago. We have had a 4′ tall nulti-headed Yucca rostrata, Windmill palm, weeping Kasmir cypress , Andean columnar cacti , an olive tree (kids favorite so far). I am thinking Texas Mountain Laurel this year. We have the traditional red and white skirt , ornaments, and lights. We usually get something that is a decent size. Usually right after Christmas, we plant it in the garden. Even though my children are getting older they still enjoy the fun of getting a new tree every year. And they get to see past trees growing throughout the year. Of course I am doing most of the shoveling. I have a lot of supervisors.

I have an heirloom tomato party every August and invite friends and family. We have tastings and make everything tomato. The tomato ice cream was a hit one year and the tomato cocktails.

Growing up in England we always brought holly and mistletoe inside to decorate the house at Christmas. We had a holly tree in our garden but no mistletoe. Now we have both holly and mistletoe and I still bring it inside to decorate. These garden plants and others were used to decorate the house for the winter solstice during pagan times, but have persisted. The holly with its red berries cheers up the house during the winter and mistletoe-well it wouldn’t be Christmas without a kiss under the mistletoe.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest we always just went out in the woods to harvest great things to bring in the house – blooming dogwood and currants, dried seed heads, wild rose hips, red vine maple leaves, Christmas trees and wreath material. Like Jenny, I’ve continued the gatherer tradition by harvesting plants from the yard. This year I’ve made a grapevine wreath with olive branches, citrus leaves, and rose hips.

I planted a Bur oak when my daughter was born. It has a birthday every year. And it is now huge!

Every year on March 14th, our family plants flowers. This is to honor my husband’s mentor and friend, Norm Hoffman. Norm was a cyclist and a time trial champion. He also taught health at a community college. Sadly a distracted driver hit him one sunny spring afternoon while he was on a bike ride. We have been doing this tradition since our kids were babies. We love this planting and remembering our friend and his message of health.

Painted rocks. Turtles, lady bugs, snakes, etc. My kids love putting “strawberry” rocks in the mulch.

Yes, I ask my children to bring me rocks for holidays. I have rocks and shells that span 40 years. Needless to say, I have rock gardens.

My 3 children each had a small garden that they could plant and grow anything they wanted when they were growing up. They each chose such different things to grow, and enjoy caring for and harvesting, given the limited allotted space. All of my adult “kids” still enjoy gardening today! Woot. Plant the seeds of knowledge and the love of gardening while they are young!

We give thanks to all of you! Linda