houseplants and cats

Houseplants and Pets Living in Harmony

November 9, 2023

Living Well

Houseplants and Pets Living in Harmony

It’s a conundrum many an interior designer, veterinarian, and pet owner has faced: Can houseplants and pets coexist without destroying one another?

The answer? Absolutely, yes! It may take a little planning, some research, and perhaps a home decor adjustment, but these beloved companions can live harmoniously in any home.

Both houseplants and pets add so much to our home lives: companionship, beauty, and fun. Yet a curious cat or dog who loves to dig can mess up your curated plant collection pretty quickly. And just one accident with a plant that is toxic to animals can cause a trip to the vet, or worse.

Creating a pet-friendly environment doesn’t mean you have to give up on having houseplants. To understand which plants are pet-friendly and how to create a happy environment for all the inhabitants of your home, read on.

Certain Plants Can Be Toxic to Animalspothos

First thing’s first: some plants should never be kept in a house with pets, period. Just like certain plants are poisonous to humans, there are plants that can be very dangerous for pets, if ingested. Be sure to research each plant before bringing it into a home with animals. Some can pose significant health risks and can even cause death.

Here are a few of the most common houseplants to ban from any household with a pet:

  • Lilies: extremely toxic to cats
  • Sago Palms: highly toxic to dogs
  • Pothos: toxic to all pets

There are a lot of unreliable sources out there, so go with expert advice. For a full list of which plants are safe or unsafe for pets, read the ASPCA’s complete guide. And save ASPCA’s animal poison control hotline on your phone: (888) 426-4435.

Choose Pet-friendly Houseplantshouseplant

There are plenty of plants that give you all the benefits of growing an indoor garden and are totally safe for pets.

A few favorite houseplants for pet-owners:

  • Spider Plant: Perfectly safe for both dogs and cats, lovely, air-purifying, and a great propagation plant
  • Boston Fern: Another pet-safe option that add humidity to the indoor environment
  • Areca Palm (aka Butterfly Palm): Offers gorgeous lush foliage is pet-friendly

These are just a few! Check out Architectural Digest’s awesome list of pet-friendly houseplants and how to use them in your interior design.

Pet-proof Your Plants

After you’ve made sure to select plants that are safe to have in the house with pets, the next challenge becomes where to put them.dog in houseplant 

Puppies of all ages love to dig in potted plants so make sure on-the-ground pots are tall enough to deter dogs from getting messy.

Only you know your cat’s nature, but in our experience, you should never underestimate how much a playful cat will attempt to attack dangling plant foliage! Keep plants’ wiggly bits out of reach for curious claws and paws.

Plant stands seem like a great option to keep green friends away from furry friends, but they present a typing hazard when pets get zoomies! Here are a few options ideas to help pet-proof your indoor plants.

  • Hanging pots and baskets
  • Small containers that adhere to windows
  • High shelves and cabinets — although never 100% cat-proof!

If your pet is persistent in trying to reach your plants, consider using pet-friendly deterrents like bitter apple spray or aluminum foil around the base of the plants. These methods can discourage pets from nibbling on your greenery.

Use Pet-Safe Potting Soil & Fertilizer

Always use products that are safe for plants, animals, and humans on your houseplants. That means potting mix, fertilizer or compost, pesticides, and fungicides.

Never use harsh chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or other additives on your houseplants when there are pets around. (In our opinion, you should be avoiding those types of products even without pets! Humans and plants shouldn’t be exposed to harsh chemicals, either.)

  • If you have pesky bugs on your houseplants, try apply neem oil spraying foliage with warm soapy water rather than using a pesticide
  • Use only organic, food-safe fertilizer like True Organic
  • Use organic potting soil
  • Be sure to store plant food and other gardening supplies properly somewhere that pets can’t access

Houseplant and pets can coexist! The first step is understanding your pet and researching your plants. By learning about which plants are pet-friendly, taking necessary precautions, and planning ahead, you can create a beautiful and safe environment for everyone in your home.

houseplants and pets


pumpkin seeds

5 Earth-friendly Ways to Use Halloween Pumpkin Guts

October 25, 2023

Living Well

5 Earth-friendly Ways to Use Halloween Pumpkin Guts

It’s pumpkin carving time! But what happens after pumpkins are carved, displayed, and start to rot?

Just like all other food “waste,” when pumpkins end up in a landfill, they generate greenhouse gasses that don’t belong in our atmosphere in excess. Not only that, their capacity to regenerate healthy soil is halted, because they’ve been removed from nature’s powerful decomposition cycle.

There are plenty of ways to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

After Halloween is over and your Jack-o-lanterns get saggy, there are still ways to make sure that rich organic material doesn’t end up in a landfill. Read on to learn some clever ways of upcycling pumpkins of all varieties. 

1. Roast The Seeds

This one’s a classic and kids love it! As you scoop your pumpkin for carving prep, set the “guts” aside in a bowl. Separate seeds from the pumpkin strings and gooey flesh and place the clean seeds on a cookie sheet. Let dry while you carve your pumpkins.pumpkin seeds

When seeds are dry, toss them in olive oil and spread them out on the baking sheet, spaced as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with salt and any other spices 

Roast at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Here are a couple of our favorite roasted pumpkin seed recipes:

Roasted pumpkin seeds with just a little salt make a tasty treat, but you can also use the roasted seeds to make:

  • A seed, fruit, and nut mix — try spicy or salty-sweet flavors
  • Pumpkin seed pesto or hummus
  • A crunchy topper for salads and soups

2. Make Pumpkin Stock

pumpkin soupOf course, you should only cook and eat clean, not-too-old pumpkins! Don’t go eating a saggy Jack-o-lantern that’s been sitting on your porch for two weeks.

But if your pumpkins are totally rot-free, haven’t been exposed to extreme temperatures, and uncarved, there are plenty of delicious ways to turn most parts of a pumpkin into food.

For stock: After carving or when you’re done displaying pumpkins, chuck the insides in a big stock pot. Add any other veggies or veggie scraps you may have, including onion, celery, garlic, and carrots. Cover with water and a bay leaf or two, and perhaps a little salt.

Simmer on the stove for several hours. Strain out veggies, pouring into a jar. Seal and refrigerator (use within 4-5 days) or freeze it for up to 5-6 months. Or use the stock right away for soup or risotto!

Homemade pumpkin puree can be used in recipes for breads, cookies, or muffins that call for canned pumpkin. It can be frozen and thawed for future use, too.

What kind of pumpkins are edible?

Good news: most pumpkins are edible. Even pumpkin types bred as common Jack-o-lanterns can be eaten — but these have been bred for visual apparel rather than taste and nutrition, so stick to baked goods when you cook those. Plenty of pumpkin varieties are grown specifically for eating, so choose those if you’re interested in making soup or a roast. 

3. Save The Seeds for Plantinggreen pumpkins

Save your seeds to grow your own pumpkins in your garden next year. Follow the steps above to remove and separate the pumpkin insides and seeds. Lay clean seeds on a tray and cover with a paper towel or light cotton rag.

Let seeds dry very well, keep them out of direct sunlight and away from dramatically varying temperatures.

Once seeds are dry, seal them in a plastic bag, envelope, or other sealable container and keep them in a cool, dry location protected from direct sunlight.

4. Compost

Home gardeners know the best way to keep your pumpkin out of a landfill is to use it to enrich your garden. If you have a high-functioning home compost operation, pumpkins are awesome additions to the pile.

A few tips for composting your Halloween pumpkin:

  • Remove all candles, wax, or other non-organic materials
  • Never compost painted pumpkins
  • If you garden organically (and we hope you do!), be sure your pumpkin was grown on an organic farm
  • Remove the seeds before composting — unless you want your compost pile to become your pumpkin patch next spring
  • Chop the pumpkin(s) into chunks before you tossing in the compost heap so it will break down quicker
  • Balance the big dose of organic material (or “green” material) with a carbon-rich (brown material) addition, like leaves, newspaper, or wood ash
  • If you don’t have a home compost, there may be a local organization that will happily take it for compost or food for livestock.

Do a quick internet search for “donate old pumpkins near me” and you’ll probably be surprised. Plenty of farms, animal shelters, and non-profit orgs around the country collect used Halloween pumpkins.

5. Feed The Wildlife…Or Your Chickens!

Local wildlife would love to snack on your pumpkins! Even if your pumpkins are a little soggy, everyone from bluejays to deer will be happy for the nutritious late-fall meal. 

We recommend only feeding organic pumpkins to wildlife, since harsh chemical fertilizers can be harmful to animals. Also, don’t feed painted pumpkins to animals.

Make a cute pumpkin bird feeder by cutting off the top half of the carved pumpkin, filling the bowl with bird seed, and hanging it from a tree or placing it on a fence. Get ready to admire migrating flocks as they take a break in your wildlife paradise. 

For foraging four-legged animals like squirrels, rabbits, and deer who are preparing for a long winter, cut your pumpkins into chunks and scatter them at the edges of your yard. Avoid this if you have a rat problem!

If you’ve got chickens in the backyard, we don’t need to tell you how much your flock will love pumpkin remains.

Happy Halloween!

pumpkins


true sustainability

Living Our True Organic Sustainable Values

September 27, 2023

Living Well

Living Our True Organic Sustainable Values

Sustainability is woven into everything we do at True Organic, from the foundation of our mission to the powerful natural ingredients in each bag.

Every year, we advance our carbon-negative trajectory by delivering millions of pounds of enriching carbon to agricultural soils.As a 20-year-old family owned company with deep roots in organic agriculture, we’ve always had an eye on what “sustainability” really means — and what it means to be in the business of planetary health. What’s certain is that sustainability isn’t summed up in any simple action or any single product. By approaching sustainability as a complex web of long-term practices and staying adaptable to ever-changing climate needs, we can have a powerful impact on healing the planet.

Our founder, Jake Evans, launched the True mission to heal the nation’s soil by making high-quality organic fertilizer for American farmers. Let’s explore how we’re staying true to our promise 20 years later.

We rescue powerful agricultural ingredients from the waste stream.

liquid bloom boostMany of our products are made from materials that would otherwise be seen as (and treated as) waste. 

In a way, our dedication to sustainability is right there in the bottle or bag: valuable natural materials that would otherwise become unused landfill waste (or be left to contaminate waterways and natural habitats), repurposed and processed into safe, effective, earth-friendly plant foods.

We use ingredients from agricultural processing like poultry manure, bone, blood, egg shells, shrimp shells, and other kinds of “waste” — yep, we’re turning what most people consider waste into plant food that nourishes the planet and your garden. How’s that for sustainability?

We also get byproducts from plant-based ingredients like reduced sugar molasses and corn steep liquor from beet sugar production and corn wet-milling.

These ingredients are captured before they enter a waste stream. This process not only eliminates unusable waste, it also means that True products are harnessing nature’s own best supplements to nourish soil.

By diverting valuable natural materials from landfills or waterways, we contribute to a circular economy where materials never become waste, and nature’s power gets to live on, regenerated as a soil-loving boost to your garden. 

Plus: Our entire operation line is zero-waste and we focus on bioprocessing (as opposed to synthetic chemical manufacturing).

We’re supported by a team of scientists with expertise in planetary health and sustainable food production.

cody bentonFor two decades, we’ve served the biggest organic farms in America, and our development teams have been working closely with farmers to help advance long-term sustainable food production. By developing optimal organic crop fertility programs that are carbon rich, improving soil microbial activity and diversity, and helping organic growers produce healthy, safe, environmentally friendly crops with good yields so that growers can be financially successful.

Our field and lab research and our product development is backed by scientists and farmers with deep knowledge about soil health and sustainability. Our R&D team partners with the growers who use True to optimize organic fertilizer programs for a wide range of crops, spanning the Western United States and Baja Mexico. From organic apple production in Washington to organic almond production in California’s Central Valley and organic strawberry production on California’s Southern Coast. 

These in-house teams of experts in agronomy, chemistry, and food safety ensure that our practices are grounded in science and aligned with our commitment to overall sustainability, waste reduction, and soil regeneration. Meet our R&D Team!

True Organic plant foods promote the wide-ranging planetary benefits of organic growing.

The most obvious way we commit to sustainability is through our products and their impact on climate health. How does organic agriculture contribute to the planet’s health? We’re glad you asked! 

Compared to conventional agriculture, organic growing methods:

  • Provide carbon and an energy source for soil microbes, helping them do the amazing work of making soil a living web that sustains life on our planet 
  • Make soil easier to work, helping farmers grow more food with less effort and additives
  • Reduce the negative environmental effects of pesticides, heavy metals, and other pollutants
  • Increase soil’s ability to properly retain and drain water, reducing runoff and flooding
  • Encourage better plant root development and penetration, making crops healthier and hardier
  • Help soil trap carbon from the atmosphere (read more about carbon sequestration
  • And supply, store, and retain nutrients that plants need most, supporting plant health — and therefore planetary health. It’s all connected!

Curious about how it all works? Read more about how organic and regenerative farming techniques can save the soil that can save our planet.  

We stay adaptable and future-minded, continuing to research even more impactful sustainability efforts.

field of cropsFor us at True Organic, sustainability means going all-in toward a future on a healthy planet. 

That means committing to long-term views and plans that have room for both determination and adaptability. As we continue to grow and learn about our impact on the environment, we’re constantly updating our practices and sustainability commitments. 

What does that mean in recent years and going forward? Here’s how we’re deepening our sustainability commitment right now:

  • We’re working with new ingredients like biochar to promote regenerative organic agriculture, not only improving soil health but also storing sequestered carbon in the soil for over 1000 years.
  • As we expand our production facilities to keep making premium organic fertilizer for more growers big and small, we’re putting more attention on measuring and tracking our facilities’ carbon footprint — and downsizing it.
  • We hope to keep influencing the larger agricultural sector by making it easier for farmers to use organic and regenerative farming practices, as well as pressing for organic policy and expansion.

When we talk about innovative, sustainability practices, that’s what we do every day at True Organic: by “making organics work” for the farmers who grow our food to the backyard gardeners who just discovered their love of soil.

True Organic's Sustainable Values


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

5 Gardening Tasks That Build Healthier Soil

September 8, 2023

Living Well

5 Gardening Tasks That Build Healthier Soil

Can you feel fall in the air?

As sunsets get earlier and cool weather approaches, it can sometimes feel like the year’s gardening fun is coming to a close. As the growing season ends, it’s soil-building season. 

Even if you live in a year-round temperate climate, early fall is the ideal time to support your garden’s soil. Admittedly, some of the best fall garden chores can be the dirtiest — or should we say the “soil-iest”? — but seasoned gardeners know that getting some organic matter under your fingernails is one of autumn’s greatest joys.

By doing these tasks in your garden now, you’ll rebuild soil’s organic content, prevent erosion, and support soil structure for a happy spring garden.

1. Clean up debris and spent plants to protect against disease.

Removing the season’s annuals not only clears space for the rest of your fall chores, it also helps ward off pests (both insects and scavenging birds/mammals) and disease-causing pathogens that can thrive on dying plants in moist weather.

Rake up and remove fallen leaves, weeds, sticks, twine, and rocks, too. If you have a functioning compost operation, toss your plant-based “waste” in there — but be sure not to put any diseased plants or major pest infestations into the compost! If you don’t have a home compost system, put plant items in your curbside green bin. 

Pro tip: Try your best to keep organic matter out of landfills, where its natural potential to transform our planet’s soil is stopped short. 

2. Test your soil to pin-point what it needs. 

Want to get down to the nitty-gritty details of what exactly your soil needs to thrive? Soil testing is your key. 

When you know what nutrients your soil is lacking, you can add the perfect supplements and amendments to adjust pH, structure, and nutrient makeup. You can even plan your over-winter cover crops and spring garden around your soil test results! 

So how does soil testing work? Read all about soil testing and how to interpret results in our interview with Margaret McCoy, PhD, our resident soil ambassador.

3. Add organic nutrients to support soil microbes and healthy spring soil.

Adding organic plant food to your soil in the fall is one of the best ways to improve its health and ensure a robust, happy garden next year.

Throughout spring and summer, your growing plants use the organic matter and nutrients in soil that microbes have broken down (thanks, microbes!). Over time, those nutrients are depleted. But the natural seasonal cycle gives soil a built-in renewal period: fall and winter!

Help soil out by adding an organic supplement to your top soil. You may choose what specific foods your soils might need based on your soil test (for example, if your soil pH is too high, you may want to add Prilled Sulfur to make it more acidic). Or, if you’re looking for a general soil boosters to infuse slow-release nutrients into your garden, you might try Seabird Guano.

Apply according to directions, gently mixing fertilizer into the top 8 to ten inches of soil. Water moderately and the living world inside soil will do the rest!

What about tilling? Historically, tilling was touted as a top fall chore because it’s a fast way to “open” soil structure and stimulate soil microbial activity. But aggressive, frequent tilling in seasonally-used areas can be more harmful than it is productive. It can further degrade organic matter and cause erosion. Save heavy tilling for when you want to turn untouched earth into garden beds. It’s not needed for soil that’s been well-tended seasonally.

4. Plant a cover crop (and other cool weather crops) to protect and replenish soil.

Yep, early fall is a great time for planting certain crops! Plant cover crops and other cool weather crops with enough time before the first frost for the plants to get strong and sturdy.

Cover crops are plants that cover soil almost like a carpet. They are grown specifically to help improve soil health and are one of the best things you can do for your soil — and yet one of the most under-utilized in home gardens.

By planting cover crops in your garden in the fall and leaving them to grow through the winter, you’ll naturally help:

  • Prevent soil erosion
  • Encourage soil aeration
  • Add organic matter to the soil and fix essential nutrients into soil
  • Keep soil microbes happy and active 

Some popular cover crops include clover, rye, vetch, wheat, some types of peas, and many types of legume.

Now’s the time to plant cool weather veggies, too. Depending on your climate zone, you may have a lot to choose from! Winter veggies, just like cover crops, support soil health in a multitude of ways…and they sure are tasty in winter stews and roasts.

5. Mulch open beds and annuals to protect them throughout fall and winter.

Mulching your garden beds is an awesome way to protect against soil erosion and keep soil warm and moist as weather turns chilly. 

Mulching also suppresses weeds, supports soil drainage, and promotes soil health by encouraging the microbial life within soil to do its slow, essential work of breaking down organic matter into nutrients plants need.

By dedicating some time and effort to these essential tasks, you’re not just nurturing your garden; you’re participating in a timeless cycle of renewal that ensures the health and productivity of your soil for years to come. So, embrace the crisp air of autumn, get your hands a little dirty, and rest assured that nature’s slow and steady processes will reward your efforts with a bountiful and flourishing garden when spring arrives once again. Happy gardening!

gardening tasks for healthier soil


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

The Love of Gardening with Instagram Creator & DIY Garden Educator Cassandra Smith

August 28, 2023

Living Well

The Love of Gardening with Instagram Creator & DIY Garden Educator Cassandra Smithcass smith

Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to be an Instagram gardening influencer? We sat down with Garden Educator Cassandra “Cass” Smith aka @gardentotablewithcass to find out — and it turns out it’s more about the love of gardening than anything else! 

Cass is a talented content creator, DIY garden education coach, and was one of our first Instagram friends! 🥰 And she’d been a steadfast supporter of True Organic since she first spotted the lineup of colorful bags at her local garden store.

Cass doesn’t only run one of the most fun, inspirational, and informational gardening Instagram accounts around, she also co-founded San Diego Seed Swap and continues actively expanding community gardening in San Diego and beyond. She shares her story with us…

True: How did you get started with your garden? Were you always a plant lover?geodesic dome

Cass: If we go way back to the very beginning, it started when my daughter got one of those cute “seed bombs” as a gift, full of tomato seeds. It was so strange to me. I thought to myself, ‘Who would give somebody seeds as a birthday gift?!’ 

I left it sitting for quite some time. When we finally planted it, I didn’t know what to do with them! I didn’t really do much at all to care for them. I’d tried a garden in 2012 and it failed; I actually had everything removed that needed heavy water and work. I didn’t have an affinity for plants.

But this time, with the tomato seeds, I did one thing differently: I planted them in quality soil. And that’s only because I happened to see the “nicer” bag of soil at the store and thought, “Well, it’s just one pot, it’s no big deal.”

To my surprise, the tomatoes grew! They weren’t huge or gorgeous (like I’m able to do now); they were scraggly, but we got a good sized bowl of tomatoes. And they tasted amazing! I had never ever ever had any homegrown produce. 

I thought to myself, “WOW. If this is what a cherry tomato tastes like, I wonder what else we can do?”

We started growing an eight-by-eight area of containers and some in-ground trees. My mom helped, the kids weren’t interested in it yet…it was just kind of a thing we had in the backyard and took care of it if we had time. It wasn’t a focus for me.

When I look back, I’m kind of shocked because I feel like a different person. Now I’m that person who is gifting people seeds!

True: When did all that change? How did gardening become a focus for you?

Cass: In 2020, I started working from home. I’d been an event professional working at a museum job that I loved for 20 years, but that year, I started to wonder how long it would last. As we started spending more time outside — everybody did! — it became our refuge.

I had a huge backyard, a tiny area of plants, and all this time on my hands. Being outside really gave me a sense of calm and connection to nature that I’d never felt before. I just started to increase the garden. And in 24 months, I went from 10 containers and a few trees to having  100 grow bags, 8 raised beds, and tons of makeshift containers. I had vintage trunks sitting in storage and I said, “Hey, this is a raised bed!”

After the first year of lockdown, I started growing an edible garden at the museum and using the food to cook in the museum café. It all just started to blossom and grow!

True: And how did you start sharing and teaching on Instagram?

Cass: I was looking to connect with people in San Diego and I wanted to learn along with people I could talk to naturally. Someone invited me to a Facebook group for gardeners, but it was people from all over — not just local.

Back then, I thought Instagram was just for famous people and we were all there to watch! All I saw were ads and celebrities. People had amazingly curated feeds, and I had no idea how any of that worked. But somewhere in there, I saw a plant page, clicked on it, and started to realize there were so many niches and areas of interest on Instagram. 

So I thought, “Why don’t I just start a plant page on Instagram?” And suddenly my page went from 100 followers to 1000 followers in a month. (Now she’s got over 21,000!)

True: Wow! What do you think drew people in?

Cass: I was never focused on “growing my following,” I was interested in sharing what I was doing and finding people to learn alongside. And finding people in San Diego!

People who knew nothing about gardening thought it was kind of like, “I grew this…but I’m not sure how!” People connected with that.

A few months after I started my account, Reels came into the world, and that was huge. I never took videos or pictures of myself or wanted to show my face (I wouldn’t even pick up a FaceTime call!) — I’ve always wanted to be behind the scenes.

But once I got in front of the camera, I realized people just genuinely wanted to know more about who I was and I knew that being like everyone else wasn’t the way to do it. 

What I was doing was authentic and Reels brought in a new level of authenticity. My goal was just to have fun. But once I got “viral,” I learned more about how to spark people’s attention, inspire them, and stay true to myself. 

True: What’s going well in the garden right now? Any surprise successes?

Cass: The corn is going great! I thought it was going to be a miss, because I thought I’d accidentally double-fed it. They shot up to seven feet tall but weren’t growing any ears — just foliage and long silks. I’ve never seen silks so long. I could brush them! 

Then suddenly, they started growing these huge ears! They’re bigger than store-bought. It taught me something: when I double-fed at the point between transplant and when the plant was really thriving, that “over-feeding” was actually good for growing bigger ears.

I was hoping to get the Guiness World Record but I saw that the record is about 16 inches. Mine’s about 14. 😉

True: What’s not going so good in your garden this year?

Cass: My grapes. Last year we had tons of grapes but they’re just not thriving right now. 

Everything was going good: we got rain, fruit started to form…but then they just stopped thriving. Once the rains ended, the leaves started getting a disease. I looked into it and it looks like Anaheim disease (also known as Pierce’s disease) — something that happens to a lot of grapes in Anaheim. Although I’m further South, it can spread. So I’m not sure if it was something I could’ve prevented given our climate or if it was something I did. Given that I have a lot of plants, I do occasionally miss somebody when it comes to watering and feeding. 

I just take notes, do the best I can, and use what I learned for next year. And, of course, use quality organic ingredients to nourish the plants and soil.

True: What are the hardest parts about growing a garden as large as yours? 

Cass: Keeping up with organic pest management — since we don’t spray (any pesticides), we really try to do what we can with the spritz of a hose or picking off pests by hand. (Key principles of integrated pest management!) But all of that starts with curating our soil, so we take a lot of time and effort to make sure we take care of all the plants’ needs. Hand watering and feeding are two of our biggest chores, but we know that taking care of our soil and plants will provide us with all of that yummy garden goodness. 

True: So you were using social media to find local gardeners to learn with…and now you’re teaching people all over the world, running your local seed swap, and more! How does that feel?

Cass: I am absolutely floored! I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to create content…but mostly that I get to connect with folks who also have a hope and vision to create a brighter future. That makes me feel like I have a purpose to help others — and this is the way I’m going to do that.

True: What does your future have in store?

Cass: Going forward, I want to make bigger connections so we’re able to reach young people in San Diego and show them that all of us can do something small in order to make a greater impact. San Diego Seed Swap is going to be the conduit to connect the community to the resources to achieve their goals.

My vision for my own future is bigger than just expanding the garden. I’d like to build a family compound and start from scratch: build a sustainable home from shipping containers and building dwellings for my children so they can continue to build and live on the land. That’s my ultimate goal for my garden and for my family. 

The goal for my Instagram work is to keep serving my community by sharing what I learn in the garden. I want to keep inspiring everyone who wants to learn how to do things for themselves, from making your own homemade syrups to growing your own sponges.

True: What are some of your favorite things about having a garden? 

Cass: We love to make a meal with our barbeque or smoker from items we grew in our garden and enjoy it at sunset. And we obviously love harvesting! The kids love harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers and especially watermelons — and really any fruit.

What makes me happiest is seeing something go from a tiny seed into a full plant that’s providing nourishing food for my family. That’s so important right now because — well, quality isn’t always easily accessible. 

We asked Cass’s kids what they love about the garden too! Here’s what they said:

“I just like waking up and looking at it while I’m eating breakfast — it’s beautiful!”

“Whenever we need some vegetable or fruit, we can just go outside and pick it. We don’t even have to go to the store.”

“Something that makes me happy is being educated on what we can grow here in our area — what fertilizers we need, what can we use as compost, all of that!”

“I like giant flowers! All kinds of flowers.”

“I love that it provides a lot of food for our family.’

“I love when I walk outside I can see a whole world of plants.”

cass smith


Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month: How Gardening Supports Your Wellness

May 1, 2023

Living Well

Mental Health Awareness Month: How Gardening Supports Your Wellness

Why does gardening feel so good?

There are so many ways gardening supports our health: from elevating our mood to supporting immunity — not to mention the many benefits of eating fresh, organic food right from the earth.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we’re excited to share the impact that gardening has on our mental and emotional health. Let’s look at the different ways gardening is scientifically proven to support health and wellness.

Overall wellness

As doctors and research scientists learn more about how our physical and mental health are linked, we can really start to connect the dots between how gardening (and being outside, in general) supports the healthy function of our bodies and minds — and how those two realms of wellness are connected.

There is growing, clear scientific research explaining how and why a connection with nature is so influential on our health. 

For starters, spending time in nature can:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Soothe your nervous system
  • Strengthen immune function
  • Increase your self-esteem
  • Help you build emotional resilience

Since all of these aspects of our health are related, let’s look at the most direct impacts on mental and physical wellness.

Less anxiety, better mood

There are, thankfully, swaths of studies finally proving that spending time in nature can help you feel more calm and help lift your mood, and even ease symptoms of chronic mental health challenges like depression. 

Specific research on people experiencing depression shows that, over time, using “therapeutic horticulture” can noticeably reduce the severity of depression after just 12 weeks (and results keep increasing after three months).

Decrease in stress hormones and stress responses

More research suggests that spending time outdoors even reduces cortisol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension — which are all physiologically related to stress, chronic illness, and our general wellbeing, both mental and physical. 

Don’t you feel calmer already just thinking about being in the garden? 😌 

Beneficial bacteria 

Here’s some really cool new research on the positive impact of organic gardening and soil health in particular. 

Along with helping to manage the psychological chemicals in our body that are related to our nervous system’s stress response (like cortisol), gardening can actually increase the chemicals that make us feel good! Here’s how:

Since at least 2017, studies have shown that Mycobacterium vaccae, a common soil bacterium (especially present in soil that’s farmed organically), is linked to reduced symptoms of depression and increased serotonin production in our brain — the neurotransmitter that gives us feelings of happiness and modulates anxiety. Along with the emotional benefits, Mycobacterium vaccae has been shown to ease asthma and psoriasis. 

Thanks, soil bacteria!

Physical wellness

Just being in natural light (and getting needed Vitamin D for our bodies) and breathing fresh air can improve our immune system. And a healthy body supports our mental health, too.

Gardening also provides time to get light to moderate exercise: pushing wheelbarrows, shoveling, digging, and lifting. Getting moderate exercise and healthy movement not only helps us feel confident, but it also reduces anxiety and depression.

Improving concentration and memory

Gardening is related to better brain function and to improved concentration and memory. 

Research like this 15-year study study in Australia of older adults have found that daily gardening is also a huge factor in reducing the risks and development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

While the causes and characteristics of Alzheimer’s are still being studied, it’s thought that gardening stoked our brain functions like learning, dexterity, and problem solving.

Wellness for kids

kids gardeningKids benefit in big ways from gardening, too. Along with all the physical health benefits, kids with classroom or at-home gardens  can learn important social-emotional skills like self-soothing, sharing, and care for other living creatures — plus essential life skills such as choosing nourishing foods, forming healthy habits, and taking responsibility.

[Check out our blog featuring Christina Abuelo, the volunteer founder and full-time manager of Barrio Botany, a garden-based education initiative that builds classroom gardens and works with kids in urban schools in San Diego.]

For at-risk kids (those living in poverty, in foster care, or other challenging life experiences) getting into the garden can be life-changing. Numerous studies show resilience building-opportunities like classroom gardening can actually reverse future negative impact on adult health and increase rates of early mortality

Social connection and a sense of belonging 

Gardening and being in nature can also reduce feelings of isolation, which we can all agree is a majorly important aspect of emotional wellness. 

University of Florida researchers who have studied the impact of gardening on mood and anxiety believe that one of the reasons working in the garden feels so good is related to how plants and humans have evolved together, and humans’ role of cultivating plants and caring for nature.

social gardening“As a species, we may be innately attracted to plants because we depend on them for food, shelter and other means of our survival,” researchers noted.

While gardening can be a calming, solitary activity (and provide cherished alone time for people who need a quiet moment in nature), we can also get much-needed social connection through gardening. Community gardening, events, classes, seed swaps, and family gardening time all offer social and community connections that help us feel a sense of belonging and joy.

So get out there and garden!

There’s plenty more to read when it comes to how gardening, being outside, growing your own food, and tending to nature improves our wellbeing and health…but we think it’s about time to dig into some soil.

While you’re out there, take a moment to reflect on all the good you’re doing for the planet, your family, and your body — because doing mindful, intentional reflection (even for a minute or two) is proven to reduce stress and make you healthier, too.  

Wishing you a happy Mental Health Awareness Month. 💚

benefits of gardening


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

December 21, 2022

Living Well

Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

You’ve probably heard of CCOF: a nonprofit organization that advances organic agriculture for a healthy world through organic certification, education, advocacy, and promotion. CCOF’s mission is to help build a world where organic is the norm. CCOF’s educational and grant-making enterprise is the CCOF Foundation, which empowers organic farmers to grow organic agriculture, which in turn creates a more prosperous, resilient world. It’s easy to see how True Organic and CCOF’s missions align. We’re honored to be an ongoing supporter of the CCOF Foundation, particularly as a donor to their Future Organic Farmer program.

 

ccof
Photo credit: The Curated Feast for CCOF Foundation

About CCOF & The CCOF Foundation

In 1973, CCOF was founded by 13 farmers who made a commitment to support organic farming and each other. Their commitment evolved into an organic certification business (how you’ve probably heard of CCOF — or at least seen the certification label!) and the CCOF Foundation.

The CCOF Foundation focuses on the founders’ spirit of community support, while CCOF’s organic certification enterprise continues to ensure organic standards across the country.

CCOF is committed to exploring the growing edge of organic, and that’s why they’re invested in new organic farmers’ education, resources for farmers in transition to organic, and in supporting seasoned organic professionals’ success through ongoing learning and training. And so are we!

The Future Organic Farmers grant is just one program offered by the CCOF Foundation. Read more about their other grant programs and their Organic Training Institute on their website.

 

CCOF’s Future Organic Farmer Program

This awesome grant program gives $5,000 in scholarships to college and vocational students training for careers in organic. These grants are offered to students pursuing vocational training/certificate programs, junior college/two-year degree programs, bachelor’s/four-year and undergraduate degrees.

CCOF writes: Future Organic Farmer grants are an investment in our future food system. The more beginning farmers who pursue organic, the more we increase organic acreage and feed our communities organic food. We hear from our Future Organic Farmer grantees that this scholarship helped them pursue organic and gave them the confidence to succeed.

We couldn’t agree more.

 

Above: Rhyne Cureton (who also goes by the apt nickname “Pork” Rhyne”), a swine specialist and international advocate for small-scale agriculture, with rural pig farmers in East Africa (where he travels to train farmers on proper livestock husbandry and health, and farm profitability.)

Above: Future Organic Farmer Grant recipients Lehia Apana and Brad Bayless at Polipoli Farms, their farm on Maui, where they grow endemic and native species with traditional Hawaiian methods. Photo courtesy of CCOF. Read more about Lehia and Brad and their organic farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aligned Missions for Planetary Health

“What if you could combat climate change, strengthen local economies, and improve health in our communities, all through one strategic initiative?”

We bet you can guess where this question from the CCOF website is leading: organic agriculture. We rely on agriculture to survive, and yet it’s also one of the biggest contributors to our current planetary health crisis. Good news: organic and regenerative agriculture methods are one of the most impactful ways we can reverse climate change!

True Organic founder, Jake Evans, started this company because he was devastated at how synthetic,
petroleum-derived chemicals were pervasive in our soil — and had depleted the soil of its natural ability to sequester carbon and retain water.

 

 

 

 

Learn more about the magic of carbon sequestration and how healthy soil (replenished by organic techniques) and save the planet. We are committed not only to serving agricultural organic produce growers with the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizer possible but also to helping preserve the planet. The more acres of farmland and gardens that are being tended with organic methods, the more we all benefit — the planet and our communities.

 

 

 

ccof foundation    ccof foundation


root vegetable recipes - True Organic

5 Easy, Delicious Root Vegetable Recipes for Winter

November 28, 2022

Living Well

5  Easy, Delicious Root Veggie Recipes for Winter

‘Tis the season for all root veggies! While Winter can sometimes feel like an ebb in the abundance of garden harvests, root vegetables are having their moment in the sun. Beets, carrots, and potatoes are celebrated superstars of the Fall and Winter table: they store well for a long time, they’re dense with nutrients that your body needs, and cooking them in the oven makes a warm, cozy atmosphere for those blustery days.

Here are 5 fun recipes for the root veggies you dug up this year!

 

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Crispy Roasted Carrots with Parmesan and Garlic

Bored of roasted carrots? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wonderful way to make them zesty, crunchy, and fun enough that the whole family will want seconds. This delectable recipe from Cafe Delites is truly mouthwatering and so simple to make. It’s a perfect side dish for any dinner or for a holiday celebration.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds carrots, washed well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper as desired
  • Fresh chopped parsley, thyme, or rosemary, optional

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Lightly grease or spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
  • Halve carrots, length-wise (no need to peel, just give them a good scrub).
  • Spread carrots on baking sheet. Add rosemary or thyme, if using.
  • Add olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper as desired. Toss all ingredients together to completely coat the carrots.
  • Spread carrots out on the baking sheet so there is some space in between them, and they aren’t overlapping.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Toss with a spatula half way through.
  • Remove from oven and serve hot. Top with fresh parsley, as desired.

Everyday Beet Dip

Bright pink, creamy, zesty beet dip is a holiday gathering go-to. Impress your friends with this beautiful, flavorful side dish that can be used on wraps, sandwiches, salads, or, of course, with crudité or crackers.

The best part about beet dip is that it’s super adaptable; you can add your own favorite add spices or swap creamy thickeners (like yogurt, in the recipe below) with chickpeas to make a beet hummus. Try this recipe as a starting point and get creative!

Ingredients 

  • 4 medium beets, washed and trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup whole Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp chili chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place beets in a baking pan with ¼ cups of water. Cover with tin foil and bake for 60 minutes, or until tender.
  • Allow the beets to cool, then peel and cut in half.
  • Add beets, garlic, yogurt, olive oil and chili powder to food processor or blender and blend on pulse until smooth.
  • Garnish with feta cheese, parsley, and whatever else excites you!

Garnish ideas

  • Fresh herbs
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fresh cheese
  • Shallots
  • Roasted garlic

Hungry for more beet recipes? Check out Food & Wine’s 27 amazing beet dishes!

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
root vegetable recipes - True Organic

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Potatoes

These gooey treats take baked potatoes to a whole new level. If you want to get really wild, add a cheese of your choice.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Make It!

  • Preheat to 500°F.
  • Toss potatoes, butter, oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Arrange potatoes in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan.
  • Roast potatoes for about 30 minutes or until browned, flipping once.
  • Remove from oven to add broth and half of the garlic. Return to oven and roast for about 15 minutes, until most of the broth is absorbed and potatoes are tender.
  • Top with cheese and garlic, if desired. Allow to cool for a few minutes; serve hot!

 

 

Winter Vegetable Salad

Salad in the Winter? Yep! Get creative with crispy greens, winter fruit, and thinly sliced root veggies for that extra crunch (and nutrition). Here is a simple winter salad base and some suggestions for additions!

Make It!

Use a base of lettuce leaves like red oak and Little Gem and add:

  • Radicchio, chopped or torn
  • Fennel, shaved or very thinly sliced
  • Golden or red beets, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • White turnips, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Orange slices
  • Walnut, chopped, raw or roasted
  • Fresh Autumnal herbs like parsley or tarragon

Top with simple oil and vinegar or a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Yum!

 

 

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Sweet Potato Hash

Turn your average potato brunch dish into a Fall favorite with sweet potatoes. This Food Network Recipe adds bacon, cinnamon, and cilantro for a savory-and-sweet flavor combination that will warm you up and make your tastebuds dance.

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil to cook
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, optional
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Malt vinegar, for topping

Make It!

  • Remove jalapeño stem, seeds and ribs, cut into thin rings.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a sheet pan.
  • Lay the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer on the sheet pan. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, add the bacon to a cast-iron pan on medium heat. Cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered about 7 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • Add the jalapeño rings to the bacon fat and fry until blistered and lightly browned. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate with the bacon.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer and season with cinnamon and some salt and pepper. Fry until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Add the bacon and jalapeños to the pan and fold to combine. Add a few shakes of malt vinegar. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried

November 11, 2022

Living Well

3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried

 

If you’ve been leaving apples for dessert and breakfast, think again. Sweet and savory is the ultimate flavor combo and apples provide just the right amount of sweet-tartness to make savory dishes unexpectedly awesome.

Besides being epically tasty and delightfully versatile, apples are packed with nutrients your body needs, like fiber, vitamin C (one apple contains around 10% of your recommended daily intake), and vitamins E, B1, and B6.

Apples also contain polyphenols: antioxidants that can protect against chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.

 

Leave the skin on apples when you can — it’s the part of the fruit most dense with fiber and polyphenols! With so many varieties of apples grown in the U.S. (about 2,500, in fact!) you’re about to embark on a flavor journey to delight your taste buds.

Apples On Horseback

By Grace Paris for Food & Wine

Here’s a super-simple yet elegant appetizer for gameday, holidays, and cocktail parties.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 16 thin slices of pancetta
  • 1 Pink Lady apple—peeled and cut into 16 wedges
  • 3 ounces Manchego cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2-by-1/2-inch sticks
  • Rosemary sprigs or toothpicks for skewers

Make it!

  • Preheat a grill pan.
  • Lay out pancetta slices. Place an apple wedge and a cheese stick in the center of each slice.
  • Wrap the pancetta around the filling and secure with a rosemary sprig or toothpick.
  • Grill the skewers until the pancetta is golden and crispy and the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Serve hot

 

Butternut-Apple Soup

By Erin Clarke of Well Plated

This recipe, inspired by simple-and-rich French bistro food, uses tart apples, creamy squash, and fresh nutmeg to offer stunning Fall flavors and color.

The ingredients are plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to find in the organic section! Plus, you can freeze and reheat this one for quick cold-season meals anytime.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 8

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped (about 3 cups total)
  • 2 large butternut squash about 5 pounds total, peeled and diced into chunks
  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (use a mix of sweet apples, like McIntosh, and tart, like Granny Smith)
  • 3-4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Make it!

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large, deep stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over low. Add the onions and cook until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the onions cook, cut and peel the squash and apples.
  • Add them to the pot, then add 2 cups of the stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover, and cook until the squash and apples are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes depending upon how larger you cut your squash and apple pieces (smaller pieces will cook more quickly).
  • Once the apples and squash in the soup pot are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a food processor fitted with a steel blade to puree in batches.
  • Return soup to the pot.
  • Add 1 cup of the remaining chicken stock, then stir, adding a bit more stock as needed to reach your desired consistency — thick and rick is best
  • Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne. Add more salt and pepper as desired.

 

Apple & Cheddar Quesadillas

We saved the best for last! This amazingly unexpected ingredient combination is a crowd-pleaser for potlucks and parties. The best part about this recipe is how creative you can get with addition! Bacon, chicken, or some leafy greens — bonus points if those greens are organically grown in your own garden!

Try a sweet, crisp apple variety like Fuji or Honeycrisp for this one.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium apples, thinly sliced
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Whatever else you want to add!

Make it!

Assemble sliced apples and cheese (and any additions) on a tortilla. Place on a lightly oiled pan or cast iron skillet. Top with another tortilla and grill until cheese is melted and tortillas.

 

 

 


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

True Organic Fun Gardening Activities for Kids

September 23, 2022

Living Well

Fun Gardening Activities for Kids

Want to help kids grow their emotional and cognitive skills, apply academic principles, get outside, and learn to love fruits and veggies? Get them into the garden!

Getting kids gardening during early childhood and beyond is incredibly beneficial — read about why in our interview with school garden expert, Christina Abuelo. It’s not just math and science skills that kids can learn as they experience gardening, but also social-emotional skills, problem-solving, nature-based nervous system regulation, cooperation, patience, and more.

Here are some ideas to kick off the fun and learning.

 

Child and mother gardening in vegetable garden in the backyard

Play Garden Bingo

Every parent, teacher, and babysitter knows that kids love to find stuff! And there’s plenty to find in the garden. Bees, worms, birds, leaves shaped like hearts, leaves shaped like arrows, all the colors of the rainbow…these are just a handful of items you can put on a garden bingo card.

Download and print this blank bingo card, then fill in your own ideas. A game of bingo encourages kids’ curiosity and gets them exploring independently, and can help them learn about identifying different plants and wildlife.

 

 

 

Keep A Garden Journal

Keeping a garden journal is a great way for kids to feel more connected with the natural world. (And garden journals are great for grown-up gardeners, too! Check out our blog on creating your own garden journal.)

Ask kids to write about what they see in the garden: What kind of bugs and birds are in the garden today? Did the plants grow, get new leaves, or produce more fruit?

Give kids a framework or template for their journals and let them explore!

Here are some ideas for more fun activities for a kids’ garden journal:

  • Drying flowers and/or seeds, taping or pasting into journals, and labeling
  • Tracking plants’ growth and yield
  • Measuring rainfall and watering schedules
  • Drawing and coloring plant pictures
  • Writing about how they took care of the garden
  • Writing about how the garden makes them feel or what they learned.

 

Math is more fun in the garden!

…And it “sticks” better, too!

Everyone learns and retains information in different ways, but for most people, doing something hands-on to learn an intellectual concept really helps it sink in. For kids who are visual or experiential learners, a garden provides opportunities to practice math skills in a way that might be retained more effectively.

Measuring, mixing, counting, and calculating are all easy to do in the garden.

For kids who are just learning numbers, counting how many tomatoes one plant has produced or how many ladybugs are crawling on a flower is a perfect activity.

A little older, and they’ll love measuring and recording the heights or weight of plants and fruits (which they can record in their garden journals).

For older kids who are learning 4th or 5th-grade math skills, help them measure and calculate square footage of garden beds or containers.

When it’s time to learn averages and medians, kids can calculate the average yield of fruiting crops or the median height of tomatoes…you’ll find that math problems in the garden are endless!

For kids who are ready to handle plant foods, a parent or teacher can supervise as they measure, mix, and apply soil supplements (just make sure it’s a certified Food Safe, organic plant food like True Organic).

 

Vegetable and Fruit Tasting

Nurture healthy palates and encourage budding chefs by helping kids harvest, prepare, and taste garden crops.

Christina Abuelo of Barrio Botany has seen first-hand how empowering kids to grow and eat their own food helps them develop taste buds that crave fresh veggies.

She suggests a “taste test” activity where kids get to try different flavor combinations, then vote on their favorites and explain what they liked or didn’t like. Kids love to express themselves, and it’s important for their development!

Not only that, Christina Abuelo says, “There’s something about being the one in charge. Harvesting something and cooking vegetables themselves makes the kids more excited about trying new flavors.”

Give kids a few different vegetables with dips and let them express their favorites. (Christina Abuelo suggests carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers dipped in hummus.)

This works great in school classrooms or summer camps or in any group of kids who are learning to express their preferences, nourish themselves independently, listen to others’ opinions, and try new things.

Older students can have fun developing their own recipes, too!

 

Gardening With Wee Ones

What about really little kids? Yes, toddlers can learn and play and help out in the garden! Little kiddos are at peak curiosity age. Help them with some simple activities like:

  • Watering
  • Planting seeds
  • Sorting and cleaning planters and containers
  • Identifying bugs and plants.

 

 

 

Remember to Have Fun!

Don’t get caught up in making it fancy or perfect. Start small! Just the joy of being outside, playing in the “dirt” will spark curiosity and creativity.

Remember: gardening isn’t about perfection. It’s about learning, connecting with nature, having fun, making mistakes, and encouraging kids to explore the world around them.