Children are natural gardeners.

They're curious, they learn by doing, and they love to play in the dirt. We hope that after reading this Guide, you'll be inspired to have fun and "get your hands dirty" by starting a garden together as a family.

This Guide is inspired by the work of Stephen Ritz and the Green Bronx Machine . Stephen is a teacher and administrator in the South Bronx, who has been able to accomplish amazing things by bringing gardens into the classroom. The simple methods that Stephen uses in the classroom can easily be applied in the home, too, so we hope that you'll take advantage of the amazing opportunities for learning and growth that gardening with kids offers.

Watch the following short video and see for yourself just how powerful gardening with kids can be. ( Warning: this video is highly inspirational!)

"This isn't just about growing vegetables; we're growing people!"

- Stephen Ritz

Home garden projects do not have to be big or complicated, so feel free to start small if you're new to all this. Planting just a few sprouts in an egg carton on a windowsill can be just as rewarding as growing a full-scale vegetable garden in your backyard. Likewise, if you're not ready to tackle seeds and plants just yet, consider starting off with a simple garden-themed craft project to "dip your toes in" before diving headfirst into the world of gardening.

Once you do start gardening, you'll see that it can provide a few obvious practical benefits, such as giving you an excuse to be outdoors (or indoors) having fun, being active, and pursuing a hobby together as a family. Depending on what type of garden you grow, hopefully you'll get a few delicious vegetables out of the experience as well.

But aside from the practical benefits, gardening with kids also helps foster important behaviors and skills, like communication, empathy, and patience. It's also a great way to help children form a direct connection with the natural environment that surrounds them, and to the foods that they eat.

For all of these reasons, we hope you will be encouraged by this Guide to start gardening together as a family.

Click here for more information on Stephen Ritz and theGreen Bronx Machine .

Click here for instructions on How to Use this Guide .