Weelicious founder Catherine McCord is all about cultivating happy, healthy eaters from a young age and the root of her healthy family food starts in the garden. She points out that kids are more likely to try and enjoy food that they grow—kale, beets, carrots, peas, you name it. If they plant the seeds and harvest it, kids take pleasure in preparing cooking and eating it, too. It’s a great foundation for building adventurous eaters and healthy food. So, we stopped by to visit with Catherine and her gardening guru Lauri Kranz of Edible Gardens LA and see her gardening prowess in action. After we planted heirloom peas, curly and dinosaur kale and romanesco, Catherine whipped up a delicious green smoothie that is one of her family’s favorites.
The Chalkboard: What was your experience gardening before you met Lauri and planted your first box?
Catherine McCord: My grandmother was a professional landscaper and my mother had her hands in the garden at any given chance. I never really caught the bug, though. I have always had an herb garden, but when I had my kids and saw how much they loved being in the dirt and understanding how fruits and vegetables grow, I was hooked.
TC: Did you always have a green thumb? What inspired you to build an edible garden at your house?
CM: Green thumbs must skip a generation – or two, in my case. I have had pots of herbs and vegetables in my yard for years, but there were several plants that just wouldn’t grow. When I met Lauri from Edible Gardens LA, that all changed.
TC: What is the best part of having a home garden?
CM: The best part is watching my kids choose the foods they want to grow and then devouring them as soon as they’re ready to pick. Being able to pick your meal right out of your garden is a gift.
TC: What lessons do you feel your kids have learned from gardening?
CM: Patience. When my son was around two years old, he would just walk up and yank a baby pepper off the vine before it was fully matured. Over the years, he learned that it takes water, sunshine and a lot of patience in order to eat something at the peak of perfection!
TC: How has having an edible garden changed your attitude towards food, cooking and how your family eats?
CM: Kids can get really picky around two and three years old, but when my kids realized they could grow their own foods and eat them, a lot of those behaviors went away. I didn’t need to force them to eat their greens. They’d just go outside and pick them right off the vine and munch away. In the summer, we grow a trellis of beans and every morning walking to the car for school, they grab a handful to munch on.
TC: What are some of your favorite things to make that include your edible garden ingredients?
CM: Smoothies! I dump everything from kale to beet greens in smoothies. Salads, too. The kids like to pick things like peppers, cherry tomatoes, lemon cucumbers and more out of the garden and then chop them up for a great big salad.
TC: What would you say to someone who is on the fence about getting into planting their first edible garden?
CM: I would start small. Buy a terra cotta plant with your favorite herb, and love and nurture it. The benefits of gardening go way beyond the food. It’s empowering and feels like such a major achievement.
TC: What are some of your favorite places to shop and get goods associated with the garden? Any great gift ideas for people who have family members or friends who love to garden?
CM: I really love Sunset Nursery. Instead of buying flowers for family and loved ones, I tend to by trees and plants for their yard. I just love Japanese maple trees or a big pot with several herbs in it.
TC: You honestly seem like you can do it all—what are you tips for balancing work, family, relationships, friendships, etc?
CM: Probably that you can’t have it all at once. Something will always suffer. I try to be realistic about my own expectations of myself and those others have of me. If you can take the time to give yourself a break, you will hopefully enjoy life much more.