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#PlantitForward: Plant, Grow and Eat!

Starting my spring garden Starting my spring garden
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Some of my fondest childhood memories involve helping my parents water and harvest the seemingly endless variety of vegetables from our backyard garden. Each year, the garden grew larger as they added to it. From snow peas to broad beans, winter melons, fuzzy squash, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, zucchini, Swiss chard, chives, green onions, the soil yielded many tasty treat. Strawberries made a brief appearance and, five years ago, a crab-apple tree.

Just thinking about those sweet sun-kissed strawberries has me drooling.

I think it’s safe to say that my parents did an adequate job educating their children about growing our own food. More importantly, they taught us from where food comes. Growing up, I also went strawberry picking at local farms and filled my baskets with peaches from orchards in Niagara. During my summers in Vancouver, I climbed trees to pick plums in my grandma’s backyard and stripped bushes of blueberries with my aunt and uncle.

These cherished memories and life lessons remain.

This spring, foodiePrints is teaming up with Kashi Canada in their Plant it Forward initiative. In turn, Kashi Canada is partnering with Evergreen, a national not-for-profit organization that inspires action to green cities. Their work is driven “by the belief in the power of people to enact positive change and restore the natural health of their communities.” Over the past two years, Kashi has contributed over $100,000 to Evergreen’s Seeding Healthy Communities program to help build and support urban gardens across Canada so Canadians can get closer to real food.

Kashi campaign

Kashi campaign

Seeds courtesy of Kashi Canada

Seeds courtesy of Kashi Canada

More specifically, why am I doing this? As a teacher, I find working with elementary and high school kids most rewarding. I love seeing them explore new ideas and concepts. I delight in seeing them succeed and getting past their hurdles. I love conversing with my students about everyday life. Most recently, I asked my grade 1 and 2 students the following question: “Where do fruits and vegetables come from?” Here is a sample of their answers.

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I wish I could show all the responses. Some were downright hilarious. Most displayed a common theme, fruits and vegetables come from the grocery store. This is not surprising as Canadians generally purchase their weekly groceries from a nearby store. Some visit farmers’ markets. Few grow their own food.

According to the Kashi Plant it Forward survey, “less than half of all Canadians (46 per cent) have ever gotten their hands dirty to grow, care for or harvest fresh fruits or vegetables. Even more surprising, one third of Canadians will not visit a farmer’s market or community garden this year.”

Using the seeds provided from Kashi, Don and I decided to start the garden early this year. We usually wait until after Victoria Day before planting anything, but with the recent hot weather, we’re risking it!

Kashi wants to help all families enjoy getting their hands dirty planting real food, whether it’s in your backyard or putting seeds in pots on your balcony. As we have limited deck space and share a yard with our neighbours (condo-style living), we decided to do both. Putting seeds in a planter and pots takes no time at all. At the moment, we’re just waiting for permission from the board to break ground.

Time to prepare the pots and planters!

Time to prepare the pots and planters!

Need to clear some overgrown grass and weeds

Need to clear some overgrown grass and weeds

Planting some spinach

Planting some spinach

Happily getting my hands dirty

Happily getting my hands dirty

With rain expected all week, we also decided to plant some of the seeds indoors. I didn’t have individual yogurt containers lying around so I’m using paper egg cartons instead. They work just as well, but you’ll need a plastic tray underneath to catch the water. Then, just place them in a sunny spot.

Planting seeds in egg cartoon cups

Planting seeds in egg cartoon cups

Here is the video that inspired me to ask my students my question.

How You Can Join In
Most major grocery chains carry Kashi products on their store shelves in the cereal aisle. When you pick up a box of specially marked Kashi cereal or bars, Kashi will donate to the Plant it Forward initiative, up to a maximum of $50,000. And, you’ll find a free packet of organic seeds, including red cherry tomatoes, kale, carrots, spinach, and beets.

Share Your Garden Adventures
foodiePrints and Kashi Canada would love to see photos of you getting your hands dirty planting fresh food. Get your family and friends involve too. Share your photos using the #PlantitForward hashtag on Twitter (@Kashi_CA) or on the Kashi Canada Facebook page.

To learn more about the Plant It Forward initiative and Kashi’s latest product offerings, please visit Kashi.ca and connect on Twitter or Facebook.

Teacher by day and blogger by night, I have always been passionate about food. I grew up watching my mother cook and bake as I sat at the kitchen table doing my homework. In the summers, I happily played in the backyard garden, picking strawberries as my parents tended their crops. A city girl with a love for the outdoors, my goal is to capture the ever-changing Ottawa food scene. When I’m not running, you can find me shopping for ingredients or in the kitchen cooking for my family and friends. Whether you’ve been cooking for a long time or are learning to cook for the first time, I hope you will find something delicious here to inspire you.