Growing a garden with our children has many known benefits. However, as a Caribbean woman, I always look for an added value in the activities I do with my kids. Being a minority of a minority group in the United States presents a challenge to keep my heritage and culture alive.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve embraced the American Latino experience to its fullest and love teaching my children about the traditions of other cultures that have become a part of what Latinos of all origins do in this country. At the same time, I don’t want my children to miss out in their Caribbean roots, the color, the foods, the music and use any opportunity to instill that in them.
One of the characteristics of live in the Caribbean is outdoor play and interactions with nature. Now that we live in the South I love getting my kids to experience the freedom of enjoying nature and learn to nurture it. That’s why we started a garden this spring.
We started off with planting vegetables for them to see where the foods we eat come from, and then I realized the awesome opportunity I had to show them about tropical trees and how to grow them. I told them about my childhood and how we used to grow plantain and banana trees in our backyard that we’ll then eat at home.
Despite the fact that I don’t have the space to grow a banana or plantain tree (yet) I’ve started to talk to them about these things while we plant our vegetables seeds. That’s why I want to share with you some ideas you could use to do the same with your children.
5 ways you can bring culture home through gardening
Talk about exotic fruits and veggies 1 of 5
Research information about specific plants and trees that grow in your country of origin and tell them how they are grown while you are out in the garden working on your own veggies.
Add some music 2 of 5
I used music that talks about our foods and represents our culture. Even if the songs mention certain foods in a poetic or metaphoric way, such as, ojalÃ¡ que llueva cafÃ© or plÃ¡tano maduro no vuelve a verde it helps to get the message across.
Talk about colors and flavors 3 of 5
Caribbean culture is full of color and intense flavors and giving examples like the difference between a pineapple and a mango and how beautiful they are will definitely get them interested in knowing more and spark their imagination.
Practice Spanish 4 of 5
Teaching them the names in Spanish of the vegetables and fruits you are growing will be fun. It will also make a warm, positive connection to the language through a good family memory.
Get cooking 5 of 5
Once you harvest your vegetables or fruits, invite them into the kitchen and let them help you cook a signature meal from your country. Making a meal with the vegetables you harvest and accompany it with colorful family-friendly piÃ±a colada will definitely complete the lesson.