Hudson Valley Parent

HVP March 2016

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18 Hudson Valley Parent n March 2016 Benefits for all Ed Watson, property maintenance manager of Neave Landscaping in Wappingers, has been gardening with his six children - ranging from just under 2 to 20 - for years. "We spend a significant amount of time in the garden," he says. "The kids also see how nature works and they see the insects, so there [are] a lot of different things to talk about." "Children learn how nature works By LISA IANNUCCI E very year, Michael Fanelli read- ies his fig trees for the spring planting season and he makes sure to include two little helpers - his daughters Emilia and Siena. "They learn a lot when they gar- den," says the Poughkeepsie father. "They watch the fig trees go from seedling to sapling to plant." Once Fanelli takes the plants from the garage to the yard, he teaches his girls how to care for and prune the trees. "They understand how life works while they watch the entire process," he says. "We then make things like fig jam and cookies and other delicious things out of the figs." Gardening is a fun activity for all ages, but it also teaches children new skills. As they dig in the dirt, prune plants and find new ways to grow food, the activity becomes both physical and creative as well. by observing the garden ecosystem," says Diane Greenberg of the Catskill Nursery, explaining that a backyard habitat garden can enable children to watch as plants go through all their stages of growth. "Having a biodiverse garden allows children to observe how nature renews itself each season while imparting an un- derstanding and appreciation of the natural world." But whether you and your chil- dren are growing a floral garden or your own veggies, you're not alone. According to the National Gardening Association, there has been a signif- icant shift toward more Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens, increasing from 36 million households in 2008 to 42 million in 2013. In addition, the report also found that more house- holds with children participated in food gardening, increasing partici- pation during the same period by 25 percent, up to 15 million. Dig your hands in the dirt! Gardening with children "Children learn how nature works by observing the garden ecosystem," DIANE GREENBERG of the Catskill Nursery Emilia Fanelli helps her father, Michael, prepare f ig trees for planting each spring.

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