Garden tours are a great way to learn new garden ideas. Check out some epic garden tours that show awesome raised beds, planting ideas and much more.
The first garden tours were sponsored by Smart Start and the County Health Department. It was a wonderful learning experience for me and my husband. The people who put this program on did a great job of showing us a variety of things that can be done in our childcare gardens and we even learned a few new techniques and tips along the way.
It’s fabulous to be able to broaden your thinking by experiencing someone else’s way of doing things. The first stop on these garden tours was our Little Sprouts Preschool garden.
Vegetable Garden Ideas-Learning from Garden Tours
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Vegetable garden layout ideas
We were able to walk around the 50 raised beds we have and talk about what we are growing, but also about how we incorporate our garden into all areas of our curriculum in our childcare.
There was much talk about squash bugs (the bain of our garden existence at Little Sprouts). There was a lot of interest in the variety of plants we grow as well as how we ended up with so much space to use.
At Little Sprouts we use plastic fruits and vegetables in a hide and seek game, play healthy food BINGO, have stuffed veggies to play with, play with veggie puzzles, identify seeds and types of seeds, plant seeds in clear bags so we can watch how the roots and stems develop underground, plant, tend and harvest foods we grow and take then inside and prepare and eat them.
The garden teaches so much. We count, sort, measure, identify shapes, colors, tastes, smells, sounds, and so much more.
After we talked and explored, we got a group photo and headed out to our next stop, the local Farmer’s Market. The market was nice and busy and had lots of goodies to take home.
We got free vouchers to choose $6 worth of fresh food and of course, we could buy whatever else we wanted. We also got a set of healthy food pencils to use with the kids. I got some bok choy, pac choy, swiss chard, eggs, a few succulents, and two seedlings for the garden.
Mr. Kent got some pastries too. We learned about how vendors go about selling at the market, how it has grown over the years and lots of good information about getting healthy food from the market.
Farmer’s market tour
I think it’s awesome they accept snap benefits so lower-income families can get the freshest food available as well. I LOVE that! There were a lot more things available for purchase, but we are growing a lot of them at Little Sprouts, so we didn’t need any of the beautiful carrots, radishes, spinach, lettuce, strawberries, and other tasty delicious offerings.
I loved seeing other providers who may not normally shop at the Farmer’s Market get to see how much fun it is. It was a great addition to the tour. Plus I just love hanging out there. The people are friendly, everyone is happy, and there is great music and a positive vibe. Shopping there on Saturday mornings makes my whole day better.
This is Andy from Peace of Prairie Organic Farm next to a flower vendor with gorgeous local flowers. Andy sells seedlings, freshly milled whole wheat flour he mills while you wait, and some lovely tasty veggies and herbs as well.
I love how naturally grown a lot of the products at the Farmer’s Market are. I know when I buy something at the market, it’s fresh and wasn’t shipped across the country as well. The next stop on our garden tours was Peace of Prairie Organic Farm run by Andy above and his adorable wife Cassie. She took us to see their greenhouse where they grow the seedlings they sell and plant, the garden, their hoop house and their chickens. They sell a variety of plants, herbs, vegetables, and fresh farm eggs off the farm as well as selling their produce and seedlings at two farmer’s markets.
I love how naturally they do everything and how they are teaching others. I love their eco friendly lifestyle. They ride their bikes a lot of places, have built an eco-friendly straw bale house, and grow everything organically.
I love seeing young people working to make the world a better place and sharing their innovative ideas with others. Our community could definitely use more people like them. Cassie gave us lots of tips about the dreaded squash bugs as well as how the hoop house increases growth and output.
She showed us how to prune tomatoes as well. Some of the girls were talking about their tomato plants getting out of hand, so she showed us how to keep the suckers out of the “armpits” of the plant to keep it from growing a whole new plant from each one. She shared a lot of great information with us. The straw bale house is built out of straw and then covered in stucco on the inside and the outside. It takes several layers of stucco to seal the straw bales. They insulate the house and last indefinitely when sealed this way because the material does not break down without the moisture. Isn’t it so stinkin adorable?
I love it! Here is a shot inside. The house is not totally complete. They just moved to Muskogee in 2012 and are still building their homestead. It’s 22 acres right in town. I just love everything about it. Here is a photo of the inside wall. They left a square undone so you could see the straw bale. Fascinating! My granola eating tree hugging side was really geeking out on this farm! I love it.
Next, we traveled on to our last stop on the garden tours at a daycare center. They have two gardens, one for three-year-olds and one for four-year-olds. They are part of the local hospital so they don’t have an on-site cafeteria, the hospital cooks the kids lunches and sends them over to the daycare.
So when they grow their food, they eat it for a snack as part of the activity of harvesting it. The kids still get to plant all the seeds and seedlings and harvest the food, so they are getting all the important parts of growing the same way my kids are, they just do it in a different way.
They also don’t have to spend most of their evenings and weekends maintaining their gardens because they don’t have so many. But they grow some great stuff, they don’t spray their food with poison, and they get to send food home with some of their daycare families which is super cool.
They do a lot of the same types of activities we do that bring the garden into the other parts of their curriculum. They also keep journals and scrapbooks of each garden season to show parents and other providers.
I love their books. Two of the ladies pictured here are the ones that garden with their classes. I’m super proud of what they are teaching their kids and sharing with other providers. It’s great to see nature being enjoyed. Their gardens look much neater than ours do. Look at all that goodness growing in there.
Toddler garden tour
Here is the area where they store their child-sized toys and their water source is here as well. They even harvest rainwater from the areas of their playground that flood to water the garden with. They give the kids little buckets and let them scoop it from the low spots and carry it to the garden to pour on the plants. I love that!
Really, I am so proud of everyone who is trying to teach their kids and others around them how to grow their own food. I think it’s a skill everyone needs and someday we will need it more than we realize now. The food system we have is fragile.
The climate is changing making different area’s weather change, so the places we depend on to grow most of our nation’s food may not be able to continue. There is drought in most of our food growing regions, so where will our food come from if they run out of water? The transportation system our food travels so far in, an average of 1,500 miles from the farm to our tables, doesn’t seem sustainable to me.
We need to figure out how to get our food from closer places to where we live. I live in Oklahoma which is an agricultural state, but we ship most of the grains we grow to other countries.
Why? It seems crazy, but it tells me I need to know how to feed my people if the time comes that I need to. And when we grow our own, I KNOW what’s on that food. I know it’s safe for my children, my family, and myself.
Growing your own food with kids
It does take some work, but it’s totally worth doing! After we finished at the daycare center, we drove back to where the garden tours began and they fed us a nice picnic lunch outside.
We also got to compete for prizes and were given some serious swag full of useful information, pens, cups, magnets, cooking information, a Chop Chop magazine which was super cool, snacks, and other great stuff. It all came in an insulated bag we can use for shopping.
More garden tours around the south
I love seeing anything growing. And I love farms, even mono-crop farms. I love greenhouses, I love PLANTS! On our road trip through the south in October, we got to see a few interesting and fun garden tours along the way. Click here to read about the rest of the trip.
Our trip was to visit my Uncle and Aunt in Georgia and they have some amazing gardens! We planned the trip after the heat of the summer, but before the garden would be gone. We also planned to visit my friend Joe Lamp’l and the Growing a Greener World TV Show garden at his home in Georgia.
Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra.
There were a couple of surprise gardens we found on our trip as well in places you would never expect. That made the trip even more blessed. I love unexpected surprises.
Gardens in industry
On the way to Georgia, we went through Birmingham, Alabama. We visited Sloss Furnace, a national historical landmark. It’s an old furnace where pig iron was made that built the city of Birmingham into what it is today.
There was a supervisor’s house outside of the factory area and a small living quarters for a worker. Behind the supervisor’s house, there was a vegetable garden. It was restored and planted with historically correct produce and flowers.
It was so exciting to discover it back there and add it to our garden tours. I loved how all the plants were heirlooms. There were moon and stars watermelons on the vines, ripe tomatoes, herbs for flavoring and medicine, and all kinds of squashes, pumpkins, beans, cucumbers and other things you would find in a food garden. There was a sign that said the families fed themselves mainly from this garden.
I was taken back to find this amazing beauty in this hard, industrial area. It was a wonderful surprise. When we were visiting the furnace, I found a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. I felt so blessed to have this experience in this starkly contrasting place.
So, I wondered why a butterfly would come here, how did the caterpillar get here, and how did God love me so much that He showed this to me? As we were leaving and discovered the garden, I knew that’s how the little fella had gotten so close, but with no plant life in that dark furnace, why would he choose to crawl over there and make his chrysalis on a steel pillar? Amazing. My mind was totally blown!
Gardens of the south
When we got to Georgia, I was super excited to add my Aunt Jodi’s garden to our list of garden tours. She is an avid organic gardener who grows most of the food they eat each year. And she is one of the biggest inspirations for the garden we are growing here with my preschool kids. She inspires me always.
Her garden is breathtaking. It’s interesting, full of life, and seeps love from every tiny corner. They have bees, every plant you can imagine including tons of gorgeous flowers, and even chickens! Beautiful chickens! I’ll let the pictures speak as they show so much more than I could ever tell. It’s paradise. I could live there forever.
My Aunt Jodi grows her garden totally chemical free. She plants her stuff in an integrated design so all the plants enjoy symbiotic relationships with one another. Her chickens get the weeds and bugs from the garden and all the produce they can’t use.
Bees in the garden
Her bees get pollen from her plants and make honey. They preserve what they grow and use it year round. She has fruit trees and bushes. She has pretty little pathways all through the garden and many places to sit and rest and enjoy the outdoors.
Community garden tours
While we were in town, we went to see the Villa Rica Gold Mine Museum. There was an awesome little community garden in front of the museum growing a variety of veggies. I thought that was super cool to see at the town’s tourism areas.
While we were visiting my Uncle and Aunt, we took a trip around Atlanta to visit the garden of my friend Joe Lamp’l. He’s the creator and star of Growing a Greener World TV show. The show runs on PBS and has tons of great ideas for eco-friendly living.
He encourages people to leave the planet better than they found it. He teaches sustainable gardening, garden to table cooking, and green living. I have loved watching episodes about how the gardens were built, how he makes compost, and how he replaced his central heat and air with a more eco-friendly system. I learn so much from the show!
Growing a greener world raised beds
On our stop at Joe’s on the garden tours, he showed us around the gardens and we visited for a while. Where Joe lives, animals and all types of agriculture are allowed and encouraged. It’s a very neat area. I loved learning about it. He has horses, chickens, ducks, and fainting goats as well as bees and a worm farm. There was so much to learn.
Joe’s gardens are gorgeous, tall, sturdy raised beds teeming with wonderful, fertile soil. He built the Growing a Greener World raised beds with sturdy wooden 4 x 4 cedar timbers.
You can see the episode where they built the gardens on their website, Growingagreenerworld.com. Check it out, there is a ton to learn there! When we came in October, he has recently pulled all of his summer plants and started fall ones. His peas were about 8 inches tall and climbing up the trellis. It’s a gorgeous garden, I just loved it.
He showed us his sturdy deer and animal proof fencing and we talked about my menacing raccoons and possums. How showed us how his vermicomposter works and how they harvest and use their castings. You can learn about that on their website as well. He was a wonderful host and I learned a ton! Plus, he was SO NICE! We had a great time.
On the way back home to Oklahoma, the last town we stopped in was Fort Smith, Arkansas. There is a historical site there where the original fort was that shows the history of the area. It’s very interesting to learn about the purpose of the fort.
As we were strolling around the exhibits at the site, I noticed there was vegetation growing in the garden which I had not seen before. I have been to the site numerous times and I didn’t remember it being green. I made a beeline for the little fenced-in piece of paradise.
There was a woman working in the garden and as I got closer, I saw there were all types of fall crops coming up and summer crops finishing. I talked with the woman and she said she was restoring the garden with school children. I was so excited to see this happening. One more miracle on our garden tours.
She was growing heirloom plants including fruits, vegetables, and flowers. She said she was supplying the garden through donations and was doing research about what plants were historically grown in the actual garden when it was in use. I love that! She had some historians helping her find the information for the region and the time frame. I can’t wait to see this garden again on my next time through this area.
I love all the things people are growing and the variety of people that are doing it. And, I love that children are learning, I love that adults are learning, I love that people are being nourished in all kinds of places. Really, I love growing and I love how the movement of growing is growing. There is nothing that satisfies like growing your own food. Body, mind, and spirit…it nourishes them all.
Are there any amazing food gardens you taken garden tours of in your travels or in your area you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear all about them.
For more about gardening, check out this month by month garden planting guide.
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