Kids Raised Bed & Container Garden

by Heather Durenberger, Tastemaker in Residence

Four years ago the kids (ages 10, 8, 6 and 4) expressed an interest in having a garden.  With lots of deer in the neighborhood, I was worried about the prospects. I decided container gardening on our back porch, might be better.  The kids and I planted several containers for tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs.  Over the next two summers we had wonderful success and the number of containers on the back porch increased.  The kids began to ask for items like pumpkins and cucumbers and I realized we needed more space.

I went to visit a dear friend Dorothy Hautmann, who has an amazing raised bed garden that provides her with all her vegetables needs throughout the growing season.  


With a boost of confidence from Dorothy and some delicate negotiations with my husband (he loves the green grass in the side yard) we decided to try building an 8 x 4 foot raised bed garden.  

I sent my boys to Home Depot with a sketch and they made the sketch come to life. The kids loved mixing the soil with several ingredients and every minute of this messy task.  Next came design and planning. The kids helped me design a garden so we could maximize the precious space for all our vegetable needs.  It is truly amazing how much you can grow in an 8 x 4 foot area. 


Our first summer, the kids delighted in going out to the garden to pick our lettuce and vegetables that we would be enjoying that evening for dinner.  Another benefit was, since the kids began growing and cooking their own vegetables, they began eating and trying new foods.  They loved growing and now preparing the food. Our own version of farm to table. 

With our success at home, I also planted the seed with my Girl Scout Troop. The plan was to try gardening a small plot at our churches community garden.  The hope was the third grade Girl Scouts could grow produce and donate it to the local food shelf.  The troop did a terrific job planting the garden and thankfully one family stepped up to maintain the garden weekly during the summer months.  It was heartwarming to hear from the mothers of the Scouts, how this activity brought them together.  Not only did the garden produce food for our food shelf, it helped build relationships with our Scouts and their families. 


I am forever grateful to Dorothy for giving me the encouragement I needed to try raised bed gardening.  I am proud to say last summer we doubled the size of our garden.  We have come to adore our fresh produce and the opportunity to work together.  

We highly encourage you whether you have a small space on your front steps, your back porch or a side yard – to try a container or raised bed garden.  You will be glad you did.  I know my kids are counting the days till the snow begins to melt and we can plant the radish seeds.