I have always been interested in finding ways to engage children in gardening, and this week I was presented with a real life situation that showed me exactly this.

Chaela Neil is the newest member of Grow Appalachia in our area (Alderson, WV). She loves to garden and has three beautiful children who love to help her. During my site visit to her house I was able to witness the bond that gardening has created amongst her family.

It does something for my soul to watch children work along side their mother in a garden setting. Each of them looking so content and at peace. Each of them knowing that they have a place and that their work in the garden helps to provide more food for their family. This is what life is about.

Chaela creates projects for her and her children to work on together. They have created a “bean trellis” that is shaped like a teepee and works magic for the beans. And they have also created their own little pumpkin patch–the kids were super excited about this! The interaction that Chaela has with her children makes them feel needed and honored. Most importantly, it makes them feel as though they are making a difference–and they certainly are.

Their home is on a hillside, so most of their gardening is done out of raised beds. With some financial support from Grow Appalachia Chaela was able to purchase more wood and materials to construct another raised bed. Which in turn, will enable her to grow more food for her family!

It has truly been an inspiration to watch this woman do all that she can do to incorporate her children into her gardening. It gives me hope for a better future and ensures me that we are moving in the right direction.

Growing our own food is a way of life that allows families to grow together and is the perfect “outdoor” classroom. Thanks to Grow Appalachia I am able to be a part of this growing, learning, and connecting. It is our responsibility as adults to pass on our knowledge to the future generations and this is exactly what happens in the Garden 🙂