School’s In at the Farmer’s Market


Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Wisconsin’s Winter that Wouldn’t Quit finally appears to be retreating as the daffodils, tulips, and other brave denizens of spring have pushed their way through the soil to salute the daylight. With spring nearly in full swing, my thoughts turn to the garden, to fresh vegetables, and to the farmer’s market.

Even though we haven’t made the decision to homeschool, I know I’m a homeschooler at heart. I find myself seeking out learning opportunities in our everyday adventures, and even though my son is just sixteen months old I love the opportunity to teach him everything I can about our wonderful and amazing world. The farmer’s market is a great example of an unconventional classroom filled with plenty of opportunity to learn.

Last year at this time my son was just a baby, barely four months old, when we took our first trip to the farmer’s market. The market is just a few blocks from home, so the walk there was a welcome chance to stretch my legs and put some miles on the stroller. It was our time together, just my son and myself, and we bonded as we looked through colorful fruits and veggies and I loaded his stroller high with plants for our own garden. Our farmer’s market trips make up some of my favorite memories of my son’s first year, and I think he benefitted greatly from the social interaction and the experience as a whole.

Now an active sixteen month old, my son is going to experience and learn so much more at our farmer’s market this year. The stroller has been replaced with a bicycle with front-mounted child seat. Once a passive baby content to quietly watch, he has evolved into an active, inquisitive toddler who wants to be right in the thick of everything that is going on. While Jack isn’t school age yet, this year the farmer’s market is going to be a wonderful classroom for him.

Vocabulary Lessons

The farmer’s market is a great place to teach food identification. Unlike the grocery store where people tend to be in a hurry, I feel comfortable taking our time at the farmer’s market showing Jack the difference between a carrot and a cucumber. His vocabulary is increasing rapidly, and the farmer’s market is a great place to work on vocabulary words. Apple, banana, corn…most young children learn best with visual examples, and there’s no short supply of examples at the farmer’s market.


The farmer’s market is a cornocopia of color. Bright red apples, beautiful leafy greens, yellow squash, purple grapes, orange pumpkins – the opportunities to learn and identify colors are nearly limitless. We will take full advantage of that.


One tomato, two onions, three beans…the farmer’s market is full of opportunities to teach counting and numbers.

Social Interaction

In my experience, farmer’s market folks are friendly people. People there love talking to my son. They ask him questions, they offer him samples of all kinds of food, and they enjoy trying to make him smile. My son hasn’t experienced the social anxiety that some toddlers face, and I feel that allowing him to interact with adults and children any time he feels comfortable is a positive thing.


Our farmer’s market always has live music – usually a folk band, a soloist with a guitar, or something similar. Children have a natural affinity to music, and so long as the volume is an acceptable level I love letting him listen to live music. The wonderful thing about the farmer’s market classroom is that as my son grows, the lessons don’t stop. As he gets older he will learn that the food we bring home from the market becomes the beautiful meals at home. He’ll learn the benefits of whole foods, of vegetables and fruits, and of buying locally.

Bringing it all Home

The plants for our garden come from our local farmer’s market, and as my son grows he is going to learn how the food gets to our table.  This year he is old enough to dig in the dirt and feel the textures of the soil and rocks as we plant our garden.  He has his own shovel and has learned to fling dirt remarkably well.  I am encouraging him to explore the earth with his hands and to get as dirty as he wants to.  Not only will give him a change to exercise those motor skills, but I hope that it will instill in him a love of being close to the earth.

Our farmer’s market opens on Saturday. For once in my life, I can’t wait for school to start.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening with Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for urban gardening with kids — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.
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    Filed under Green Living, Natural Parenting

    9 Responses to School’s In at the Farmer’s Market

    1. Dionna @ Code Name:

      You are a natural homeschooler at heart! What a fun way to look at visits to the farmers market. Kieran is always very impressed that the person who sells us our produce actually grew it. Thank you for sharing!!
      Dionna @ Code Name: recently posted..Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener

    2. mamapoekie

      and you forgot to mention the yummy yummy taste of locally grown veg when it end up in your plate
      mamapoekie recently posted..Connecting To Nature

    3. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

      I love your post! What a great collection of learning experiences. I totally agree with the social aspect — people at farmer's markets are the best for interacting with all ages. I love that connection with the growers!
      Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..May Carnival of Natural Parenting- Urban gardening with kids

    4. Kat

      How fun!!! I love how you view learning and teaching your son about food :-) He's a lucky little guy!!!

    5. Sheila

      That is great — the world is your classroom!

      Really, every family with toddlers is a homeschooling family … they learn to walk, talk, eat, and so many other things before they ever go to school. And my opinion is, if I can teach my child to walk and talk, why do people assume I can't teach him to count, color, and read, too? :)
      Sheila recently posted..Recipe- Eggs with dandelion greens and wild onions

    6. Kristina @ Hey Red

      Yay! Farmer's Markets! What a great post, and now I can't wait for our local markets to open here too :)

    7. Melissa @ The New Mo

      Beautiful post! Farmers Markets really are wonderful classrooms! I love that your son enjoys shopping, too – it can be such a trying thing to take a toddler to the grocery store if you don't go about it in just the right way (and sometimes even if you do!).
      Melissa @ The New Mo recently posted..Garden Day

    8. MJ

      I love Farmer's markets !! Though yours seems much more developed and fun than the ones we have here!! And your so right about it being such an amazing learning experience. To be able to meet the growers themselves is so wonderful, too!
      MJ recently posted..The Art of Blueberries

    9. Tashmica

      We love our farmer's market. It is actually right down the river trail from our home. I love getting nearly too ripe fruit for a great discount and eating it on our way home. All life is learning. :)

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