My family moved to Massachusetts when I was six, and after awhile, my parents would chide my brother and me for being “afraid of getting our hands dirty.” Prior to that, we lived in rural Connecticut and practically lived in the dirt.  Josh and I made countless mud pies, roasted marshmallows in the back yard, picked huckleberries in the woods, and spent all our time outdoors.

I am sad sometimes that my own kids aren’t as lucky to grow up where I did. Even after we moved to Massachusetts, we still roamed the woods and spent a lot of time outside. We always spent part of the summertime pacing beaches, looking for shells and sea glass.

Lately, I have been looking for ways to help my kids “get their hands dirty.”  I want them to learn the value of hard work. To know what nature is, and to feel comfortable there.

So when my friend left me in charge of picking the vegetables and berries from her garden while she and her family is on vacation, I jumped at the chance.  She is a wonderful gardener (as opposed to me, who believes in gardens but have never successfully grown anything for longer than three weeks).  I wanted to teach my kids how fun it is to be in the soil, to have the satisfaction of picking a perfect berry, or an enormous squash (and as I said, they would never know that satisfaction if it it’s up to me).

She warned me it would be a hard job. But I can’t see how sneaking around in someone else’s neatly planted rows of cucumbers, blackberries, currants, zucchini, and tomatoes—at liberty to pick whatever I want like it’s a produce shopping spree—could be difficult, much less fair.


I’ll admit, it gets a bit hot out there, and one of the kids got stung by a bee (remedied quickly by the remaining drop of hydrocortisone cream in our first aid kit), but overall, it’s been fun. The kids have loved getting their hands dirty. Yesterday they had their own game of whose tomato/blackberry/green bean tasted best. The winner was awarded another tomato/blackberry/green bean.

I have been posting recipes throughout the week on babble. Be sure to take a peek at the blackberry soup, fresh tomato sauce, and zucchini cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting.

And a HUGE thank you, JoLene. This has been fantastic.