Pick up a pencil and paper. It's time to make a map and plan your garden. If your child looks at you like you're holding a piece of coal and a slate board, you can always use an online garden planner like the one at GrowVeg.com.

Hand over the pencil and let your youngin do the sketchin. Crude shapes are fine. This is garden prep, not art class.

Brainstorm together and come up with a few fun designs -- carrots over here, beans over there with the squash, sort of thing. You can always adjust later as needed, but this gets the ideas and interest going.

This is a good time to discuss the benefits of companion planting, space requirements, etc. Be open to ideas, and let imaginations rule the day.


Taste of the Future

Yep, it's time. The ground under your feet may have a few weeks to warm up before planting, but somewhere -- not so far from your swath of the world -- a farmer is busy harvesting. It's garden season.

Now let's get our kids off the couch, and out into the world.

But first...

Let's take a trip to the grocery store. Skip the pasta aisle, and go straight to the produce section. Now take a look at the shelves. Colorful, aren't they? New tomatoes...are those heirloom? Artichokes, firm and emerald green! Blueberries...Mmm.

Did I mention, your child(ren) should be sifting through those favorable fruits and veggies with you? Engage them, promote questions, and offer answers.

"What is this? Red spinnach? Gross."
"Nope. That's Swiss chard and it tastes like a rainbow. Want to buy some for dinner tonight?"

Focus on the produce that grows well locally. If tomatoes are your fave, then purchase a variety: a pint of cherry (red, black, gold, or all the above), a shapely beefsteak, and/or a monstrous ribbed-brain heirloom.

Encourage your young co-shopper to look and feel around the entire produce section. All the while, discuss what grows in your area, what your space and conditions allow, and what might be interesting to grow.

Then, when your basket cannot hold another carrot stick, go to checkout.

Once home, you can either head to the kitchen, or bring your recently purchased goodies outside. There, you can slice open a few tomatoes, nibble on a couple of cucumbers, or smell a bunch of basil.

The idea is to touch, feel, and taste the future of your garden.

What fruits or veggies taste best? Which is better...cherry or grape tomatoes? Spinach or chard? Purple potatoes or brown? Fava beans or soy?

This simple activity will fill bellies and minds with a vision for the upcoming season, and the possibilities a garden has to offer. It will kickstart youthful imagination, while anticipation is the only thing currently growing.

Tomorrow, we plan!


Fundraising with a Twist!

Tired of cookies and burnt baked-good fundraisers? Customers walking away from a good cause because they are watching their waste line? Check out GreenRaising for a healthy and eco-smart alternative. They might be just what you needed to get that school or community garden up-and-running this season!


Garden Season, Hooray!

A quick glance at the calender reveals that Mother's Day is just a page away. Know what that means? The unofficial start of garden season is only a month away!

The exact time to plant is, of course, dependent on your location, but here in NY the ground is warming up and little green shoots are peeping out of the earth. For parents, this is a time for shaking off the cabin fever and getting the family outdoors. For kids, this is a time to run off all the stored-up over the winter.

Why not take advantage of this energy? Use the ya-yas to your advantage.

As green-thumbery and vegecation are our passion, OneCoolParent will be posting ways to get your little buddies engaged in garden prep and planning over the next few weeks -- leading right up to Mother's Day. We will discuss ways to include children in all stages of the gardening process, while recognizing teachable moments. Yes *cough-cough* many of these will tips and tricks will taken from the pages of our upcoming children's gardening book, but we will also offer up some exclusive goodies. Now go grab a trowel, because we are about to have some fun.


Story and Song Website Up!

The first launch of my "Writer of Story and Song" website is up! Swing over HERE to check it out!

In other news....planting season is almost upon us! Tune-in daily to see some fresh and funky ideas to get your garden buddies off the couch and into some dirt. We will be ramping things up in the days, weeks, and months to come. Now, whate are you doing reading this on your computer? Get outside and fly a kite!