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00243-2 2By Belinda Mountain, copywriter, blogger, and mother to toddler Rachel & baby Ben. You can also follow her on Twitter @BelindaMountain

As a youngster, I remember being sent outside with nothing more than a soccer ball or a bicycle to keep me entertained. But now days our kids are hooked on TV, addicted to iPads and attached to their phones.  And let’s face it; most of them are more likely to tear open a Twinkie than munch on a carrot.

According to Discovery Health, almost 20% of South African children are considered overweight or obese and this problem is getting increasingly worse. So how do we ensure that our children grow up with both a healthy outlook on life and a healthy BMI?

In SA we’re blessed with a wonderful climate, with nearly 11 months of sunshine a year. This makes growing your own vegetables and fruit a very real possibility, even if you think you don’t have the space. If you have a patch of sunshine, either on your balcony or in your back garden, you can produce your own food and reap the benefits.

5 reasons why getting your kids gardening is a great idea:

1. It teaches them life skills. This generation is all about instant gratification but once DSCF5318they’ve spent days waiting for a strawberry to turn the perfect shade of red, they’ll learn both patience and gratitude.

2. I can bet that if I asked some kids (and some adults) how a broccoli grows, few would actually know. Growing your own can help you brush up on some basic biology and learn more about food production.

3. They’ll learn respect for the environment. When they see the miracles nature produces they’ll be less likely to waste precious resources and more likely to protect our planet.

4. It can save you money in the long run! Although setting up may require a small initial outlay of cash, you’ll soon start to save money on your weekly grocery shop.

5. It encourages an interest in healthy eating (and is a great form of exercise too). Once your child has nibbled on their first juicy carrot or bitten into a sun-ripened tomato – they’ll be hooked.

Spring has just arrived, so now’s the best time to get cracking. Starting off can be as simple as visiting your local nursery, choosing some seedlings and asking for a little advice. I used a company called How Splendid to help me set up my own garden. They also offer vegetable boxes for smaller spaces and special kiddies’ boxes too.

Ultimately though, I’m doing it for another reason – I want to help create childhood memories my kids will treasure for years to come. Because as Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote in The Secret Garden:

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that she should never forget that first morning

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