Here are a couple of items I ran across that are intended to get kids interested in gardening and eating healthy vegetables. They should be of interest to parents and teachers.
Plant a Lollipop?
The first one is VeggiePOPS™. This looks like a lollipop and even has the colored wrappings on each different VeggiePOP™. But don’t eat it! Inside is 3-4 seeds of easy-to-grow vegetables and a little seed starting mix and nutrients to get it off to a good start. VeggiePOPS™ comes with online instructions and a full scale teacher’s curriculum, called Bloomers Island, to help youngsters (and adults) learn more about gardening and achieve gardening success. They also sell VeggiePOTS™, growing containers made from recycled plastic bottles, which you can use to start the seeds in. The EarthBox® kit, which has been around a while now and sells for about $55, will also work well for growing the vegetables.
The VeggiePOPS™ are really catching on, according to Cynthia Wylie, Founder and CEO of VeggiePOPS™ and Bloomers Island. VeggiePOPS™ and Bloomer Island is designed to get kids interested in gardening and not see it as a chore.
“Our whole goal was to make gardening as fun and as easy as possible,” says Wylie. VeggiePOPS™ come in 6 different “flavors,” including Swiss chard, carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, summer squash, and bush beans.
Wylie says this is the first generation of kids with a life expectancy less than the previous generation. She thinks this is due, in part, to diet and kids having a more sedentary lifestyle as a result of playing video games and such. Gardening will not only get the kids on their feet, they’ll get eating better.
“Less than ⅓ of kids eat more than one serving of vegetables a day,” says Wylie.
She says they have found that kids will eat vegetables they grow themselves. Parents are very excited about this, which is also driving sales of the product.
“It’s a taste of gardening,” says Wylie. “And invariably what happens is there are a couple of kids in every class that become obsessed with it and those are the kids that you want to encourage, they’re the ones that are going to be the AG majors of tomorrow.”
VeggiePOPS™ sell for $3.99 each or $20 for a package of 6. You can find out more about VeggiePOPS™ and the learning curriculum, which includes a poster that you and your grandchild can use to track the growth of your vegetables, at bloomersisland.com.
Plant a Pencil?
Here is a product that is intended to get kids interested in gardening and start thinking about conserving natural resources. It’s called the Sprout Pencil. It’s a lead-free eco-friendly pencil made of biodegradable ticonderoga cedar. Contained in the top capsule are seeds for different vegetables, herbs, and flowers. When the pencil is down to a nub the capsule is removed and planted. There are over 12 different Sprout Pencils, including colored pencils for drawing, that contain seed for growing herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
The idea for the Sprout Pencil originated at MIT, where students were looking to create a sustainable product for children. The MIT students formed a company around their invention and then sold it to an investor in Denmark. The rest, as they say, is history. They now sell over 450,000 of the pencils per month both here and abroad.
“For every tree that is used to make a Sprout Pencil, we plant another one,” says Ed Goldman, who is in charge of North American sales for Sprout World, the parent company. “The nice thing about the Sprout Pencil is they don’t end up in landfills like other writing utensils.”
Sprout World also sells what they call Tiny Gardens, which are shallow containers made from recycled cardboard. Instead of a potting type soil, the Tiny Gardens contain a fibrous hemp mat, which is used to start the seeds of basil, broccoli, cress, radish, and sunflower.
You can also grow microgreens in the Tiny Gardens. Microgreens became popular in the 1980’s among chefs in California. Micro-greens are small plants, which you harvest as soon as they have developed their first set of true leaves. The stem is longer than normal, because micro-greens are grown for a short, intensive period, during which the stems strive for sunlight.
All of these products, including the Sprout Pencil, can be ordered via Amazon. Check for them also in your local garden center. They’ve been featured on CNN and the Today Show, so they could end up in a store near you. You can also go to Sproutworld.com for more information about their products and to find a store.