Julie Anne: Personal Chef Approach™ member, Rachel Cree-Lowe often keeps us all giggling in the forum over her children’s antics, but when she shared about the  “little bag of hope” birthday party favor bag her daughter Holly brought home from a classmate’s party – I immediately asked her to share it with all of you! It’s quite possibly the coolest gift bag on a budget idea I’ve ever heard of…
Knowing where food comes from helps children want to make healthier choices

Knowing where food comes from helps children want to make healthier choices

…. plus it encourages your children to be more aware of where their food comes from – that in turn helps them want to make healthier choices, so it’s definitely a winner in my book!
Rachel: When we moved into our house in December 2005, there was a thick blanket of snow and I was 9 months pregnant so gardening was the last thing on my mind. When the garden came alive that spring, the only thing I managed to accomplish was planting a hydrangea and a holly bush (for my daughter’s namesake).
Homegrown produce

Homegrown produce

To be honest, I had no idea where to start. The backyard was a blank canvas and I was not a gardener. Getting dirty, pulling weeds, figuring out what to plant where was not my scene.  Nothing had been done other other than an old grape vine with crumbled arbor and the front garden was full of wild bushes and chipped stones.
Ava
When the girls were old enough to help, I dug up a small plot and had them pick out some seeds to plant. After carefully measuring out rows and  marking off space, I handed them some seeds and explained how to plant their choices. Holly carefully planted her seeds – chubby toddler fingers poking tiny seeds into the dirt with the precision of a surgeon- but Ava took hers and simply flung them into the garden then ran off to play. Holly ended up eating all the peas straight off the vine, the raccoons ate a great number of tomatoes, the squirrels ate at  the pumpkins and the radishes and carrots refused to grow (I found out later you needed different soil). My friend laughed because I couldn’t get petunias to grow either. I gave up on the idea of a successful garden and planted flowers with marginal success however, this year Holly’s friend Nora and her mom have inspired me as well as Holly.
Very clever handmade gifts

Very clever handmade gifts

For most parties the girls go to, they arrive home with a bag of candy, tattoos and cute pencils that are the source of battle then used. Some are bigger gifts… party favours can sometimes look better than the gift your kid went to the party with leaving the parents feeling slightly inadequate because you can’t afford the same. Then came the little bag of hope. I watched for Nora’s mom, Leia to update her facebook page with her community garden updates or tips on growing crops in tiny urban sized back gardens and caught the excitement. Then she posted her progress on the gift bags for Nora’s upcoming birthday. She had harvested her own seeds from last years garden and carefully saved them to tuck into home printed, glued and labelled seed packets.
How does your garden grow?

How does your garden grow?

There was a baggie or potting soil, a hand printed garden journal, instructions on growing seasons, a small pot made of newspaper and a happy pencil with a flower taped to the top using green painters tape. Holly was beside herself with excitement. She came in with the beautiful paper gift bag with home printed label and got to work planting her seeds. The instructions were clear and perfect for the 7 – 8 year old set to read and follow so she did the work herself under the watchful eye of the cat and the slightly jealous eye of her sister.
Holly, and the cat anticipating their bounty

Holly, and the cat anticipating their bounty

This year, we’re planning on turning the front garden into a strawberry patch, some herbs and perhaps another variety of berry and the back yard will be home to peas. tomatoes and hopefully potatoes to start. I’m excited and so are the girls. What better way to teach the children how food should be grown, how it grows and the wonderful flavour that comes from food grown naturally, picked fresh and occasionally eaten right off the vine. I can’t wait! All because of a little bag of hope!
Julie Anne: Thank you so much for another fabulous guest blog post Rachel!
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