Are you tired of your kids asking for a raise in their allowance? Are there certain chores around the house that need to be done but that you don’t trust the kids to do (e.g. chop firewood, clean the gutters, etc.)? Want to teach them the value of a dollar by making them earn it? Need a homeschool object lesson on marketing? If you answered, “Yes,” to any or all of these questions, this post is right for you.
Let’s start with a story. It relates. Promise.
When my brother and I were in grade school, our family had a garden in the backyard. Our parents grew tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, onions, carrots, peas, jalapenos, and chilies. At a certain point in the summer, the garden would out produce our family’s ability to eat its bounty. Mom came up with an idea.
We picked all the ripe produce we needed for the week and put the surplus in our wagon. With a simple pricing system (25 cents for a tomato, 10 cents for a pepper, etc.), my brother and I went door to door on our block selling fresh produce to our neighbors. We split whatever we made and rarely made it home with any produce in our wagon.
Obviously this was a profitable business for a couple of reasons. Neighbors got farmers’ market goods delivered directly to their door, and they got to encourage cute kids in the process. It was like a lemonade stand without the nasty, watered-down lemonade. Also, we were selling what we didn’t need. (Mom did freeze some items for use out of season, but our freezer could only hold so much.)
Does it sound like a lot of work to plant a garden so you kids can earn some cash?
Perhaps. But there are other benefits to growing the garden and letting your kids use it to make money. Consider these:
- Your kids are more likely to eat vegetables if they helped to grow those vegetables with their own little hands.
- When they know there’s money in it for them, they’re much more likely to help do what’s necessary to tend the garden, like pulling weeds and watering, without complaint. (Okay, less complaining.)
- The kids will take ownership of protecting the garden. We were much more careful about not kicking a ball into the garden when we knew how difficult it was to sell damaged produce. We were also quick to crush tomato worms beneath our sneakers.
- Gardens teach basic biology. Kids learn lessons like how plants bloom before they bear fruit, how bees and butterflies are essential to a bountiful harvest, the value of sunlight and water, and other things without even being aware what they’re doing is educational.
- You get to know your neighbors better. This builds a sense of community and an informal neighborhood watch that’s becoming harder and harder to find these days.
Sure, your kids could set up a lemonade stand, babysit, or rake leaves, too, but the intangible benefits of gardening motivate parents, too.