Let Them Grow: Garden Herbs

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Garden Growth and Gifts

Our garden herbs are growing and it’s time to start reaping the rewards! Young children love to harvest, allowing them to connect to the land and have a sense satisfaction from the work they have put into growing their garden. This early summer we are using garden herbs as gifts for Father’s Day, teacher appreciation and birthdays. Here are a few recipes of the garden-based gifts we’ve made so far… 

Garden Marinade

This is an oil-based marinade using fresh garden herbs. Have the children pick the herbs, tasting and naming each one. Talk about what the flavor is like: bitter, sweet, savory. Let the children feel the softness of the sage, the prickles or the chive flower and the intense flavor of onion and garlic scapes. After the children have harvested the herbs, use a recycled container and fill it with chopped herbs.

  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Chives
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Parsley

For color, add orange or lemon peel to the jars.

After the jars are filled, add the oil into the jar. Fill the jar to the top with oil. These make beautiful gifts and a tasty addition to any meal.

Garden Dry Rub

This is a dried herb mixture used as a rub for meat or fish. Here are some great herbs to pick and dry to make your rub:

  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Peppercorns and salt (store bought)

This is a fun activity, but takes patience. All of the herbs harvested will need to be laid flat and dried. After the herbs are dried, have the children crumble up the herbs onto a large plate. Separate the herbs by color. Greens and browns-maybe purple from purple basil or chives flowers. After the herbs are separated, place them into a jar, layering them by color, adding salt and peppercorns in-between. These are a wonderful activity for slightly older children and make a great gift for any chef in your life!

Herb Bread

One more exciting thing to do with your herbs is to bake them with bread. Good herbs to add are:

  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Parsley

In order to make baking fun for the children, I like to premeasure all the ingredients first. This allows the children to do most of the pouring and stirring. Here is a simple recipe and makes amazing bread!

  • 1 1/2 Cups of Water
  • 3 Cups of Flour
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon of Salt
  • ¼ Tablespoon Yeast
  1. Add the yeast to the water.
  2. Add salt to flour and then pour in the water mix into the flour.
  3. Have the children mix the dough until stringy.
  4. Cover the dough and wait for at least an hour and up to 12 hours.
  5. The dough should look bubbly and have risen to double it size.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Working with herbs and spices help children make the connection between farm and table, or in our case front yard and table. Making these connections early on is a great way to lay the road for healthy and experimental eating. To really teach the concept of garden to table, encourage your child to taste, smell and feel the herbs. Let them play with them, rip them, crush them and explore them. Make a beautiful gift or store the herbs for later use.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.

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