Farmer Boy

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I grew up on a farm that has been in my family for over 350 years and spent a big chunk of my childhood working in the farm market.  This means I have had the fortunate opportunity to enjoy amazing fruits and veggies at the peak of perfection.  My favorite was a warm strawberry picked and then transported a short distance, directly into my mouth.  My husband Ed’s family raises their own pigs, turkeys and chickens, and also operates a shellfishing business. 

It is incredibly important to us that our son Joshua knows where his food comes from.  My philosophy of education is one of place-based, experiential learning, and this is exactly how we teach Joshua about his food.  We bring him along, visit our families, let him get dirty, eat the apples, and pet the piglets.  Farm kids are not isolated from the work that their parents do, and though we don’t live on a farm anymore we plan to keep Joshua involved with where his food comes from throughout his life.  Even a small child can help to raise his own food, and his responsibilities will grow along with him. 

We started early.  About two weeks before Joshua was born, I joined my family for a walk around their 60-acre farm as they tapped trees in sugaring season.  This year, I brought an almost one-year-old Joshua along.  Next year, he’ll get to participate in some small way.

As Joshua grows up, he’ll learn to plant seeds, weed, fertilize and harvest.  He’ll be expected to work, learn, and play along with the adults.  He’ll learn to drive a tractor at a young age, when we think he’s ready.  He’ll grow pumpkins, berries and squash and climb up the dwarf tree to get a juicy peach.

He’ll help take care of animals and grow to love them like we do.  He’ll help to package meat, learn to cut it up, and maybe even learn to slaughter our meat animals, though I think we’ll let him make that choice for himself.  He’ll learn to fish in fresh and salt water, too.  We believe that if you choose to eat animals, you had better know where those animals came from and how they lived.

We also spend time in our own kitchen so that Joshua can learn to cook what he grows and raises.  Family meals are important to us, too, and he will get to help in an age-appropriate way.  Right now, Joshua plays with wooden spoons, measuring cups and pots while I cook.  Soon he’ll get to help stir, strain, and wash.  Maybe someday he’ll even cook a whole meal while I put my feet up. A girl can dream.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.


Filed under Food, Fun Family Learning, Gardening, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Natural Learning, Nature, Outside, parenting, Sustainable Living

10 responses to “Farmer Boy

  1. This is such a great post. I thought I was a little ‘self sufficient’ but reading your post has made me realise there is SO much more we could be doing. I agree completely that our children need to know where there food comes from and how it ends up on the plate; otherwise we take it for granted. Over here we throw away 1/3 of the food we eat – I’m quite sure that would change overnight if people knew more about the time, resources and care that goes into producing good quality food.

  2. That last part cracked me up. 🙂 I am so inspired by your life growing up with a farm that’s such an integral part of your family. That’s really beautiful. I like your perspective on eating meat and wish I could steel myself to be more conscious. For a long time I was a vegetarian, and the idea of being involved in slaughtering or even fishing kind of freaks me out. I think growing up with those factors as a given is probably the better tack.

  3. Mj

    Your adorable Farmer Boy sounds like he has a wonderful childhood in front of him. I am excited for this new generation, all the things that they will be able to do that my generation and several after seemed to have missed :).

  4. I am green with envy that you have such easy access to farmers! What an incredible experience for your son. He will have some amazing memories – I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about farm life in a few years 🙂

  5. What a lucky little one!!! Just think of how amazing it will be for him to grow up like that. Also your perspective on meat eating is very spot on! Great post.

  6. Oh my goodness – what an amazing list of resources! You have such a sweet boy and how wonderful to be teaching him about real food.
    Warm wishes, Tonya

  7. Amy

    You are so lucky to have such an available resource for teaching your son about where his food comes from. It sounds like a wonderful way to grow up, understanding farming firsthand. I can just picture him exploring all those new foods and activities. The last line made me chuckle–I think we would all like that!

  8. What a lovely childhood you and your husband must have had! And what great and rich experiences for your child!

  9. Is it OK that I am SO JEALOUS? I grew up on a farm in Southern Ontario, but I transplanted myself to Toronto when I was 18. Now, with 4 kids and a postage-stamp for a backyard I MISS THE FARM. It’s true what they say: You reall DON’T know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

  10. This is such a great post and thanks for all of the wonderful links. I am on my way to check out some of them right now.

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