Fresh is best when it comes to picking produce — and it doesn’t get any fresher than home- or locally-grown.
Plenty of fruits, vegetables and herbs can easily be grown at home, and gardening with your family can be fun, educational and rewarding. Did you know that grocery store produce is often picked before the fruit or vegetable has fully ripened? Growing your own produce is a great way to ensure that you are getting fresh, ripe produce every time. Here are some tips for starting a home garden:
Produce that is kid-friendly and easy to grow inside:
- Basil, cilantro, thyme and sage (can be grown at a sunny window right in your kitchen)
- Tomatoes (make sure these are next to a window with lots of sun!)
Produce that grows well in outdoor pots:
- Greens (lettuce, spinach, kale and collards grow best in lower, indirect light)
- Citrus fruits (need lots of sunlight and should be planted in the ground or deep pots)
- Root vegetables (plant carrots, beets, potatoes and parsnips in deep containers)
Each fruit or vegetable has different sun and water needs. Find out what kind of light (direct, indirect, low light or shade) you might have in your home and plan your plants accordingly. Make sure you’re working with good potting soil and that your plants have adequate space to grow. For step-by-step instructions on starting your own edible garden, check out First 5 LA's DIY with Kids: Grow Your Own Tomato and Basil Plants
Plan a Community Crop Swap
A crop swap is a great way to engage your community and try different fruits and veggies for free. Crop swaps are gatherings where local home-produce growers can trade their produce with one another.
- Find other people who are interested in a crop swap. There are plenty of resources online, as well as an app called that finds local swappers in your area.
- Set some guidelines. Make sure the crop swap is trade-only and that there is no cash involved.
- Get involved in your community. Hand out fliers, post online, etc. Tell your neighbors with fruit trees about your crop swap. These trees often go unnoticed and their fruit goes uneaten.
If you don’t have space to grow a garden at home, community gardens allow you to rent a plat to grow your own fruits and vegetables. The Los Angeles Community Garden Council has a map of community garden locations in L.A. County.
L.A. County farmers’ markets offer California-grown, fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, juices, breads, free-range meats, eggs, cheese and much more. Many farmers’ markets have fun activities for the whole family, like arts and crafts, live music and healthy cooking demonstrations — making farmers’ markets a great excursion the whole family can enjoy. In addition, many local farmers’ markets accept WIC vouchers and EBT cards. Please check with your local WIC agency for more information.
Many organizations support and encourage home gardens and urban farming. The following nonprofits have programs that facilitate fruit tree and vegetable plant distribution to communities:
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