The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “gardening”

Starting an Herb Garden


This Week’s Recipe

We may have just had a spring snow, but we have also had a few days now where spring has shown us that it is (hopefully) right around the corner. I love hearing the birds in the morning and seeing the sunshine! I am so ready for this winter to be over and to be doing activities outside! Do you feel the same?

I want to head out to a local nursery and buy plants and seeds and soil. This year I want to try something new; planting an herb garden. I love watching flowers bloom that we have planted and this year I also want to be able to taste what we are growing in our salads, sauces and soups! I am going to be following these simple guidelines:

  1. Picking your herbs- start with picking out your favorite seeds. Some basics include basil, chives, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  2. Location- you want a spot with good soil that will receive ample sun light, yet be shielded from wind.
  3. Care for your herbs- water regularly, place mulch around the base, fertilize monthly and prune as needed
  4. Harvest- and ENJOY!

Growing herbs is a great family activity, too. Kids can help throughout the entire process and they will love seeing what they have helped grow in their dinner.


Bethany Clapper, Director of Development & Marketing and Mother of Two

Tip of the Week: Mother’s Day


Recipe of the Week

Mother’s Day evokes a memory of pretty spring dresses and baskets of flowers.  Each and every May of my childhood, I can remember going with my parents to the plant nursery to pick out a hanging basket of bright purple and pink fuchsia plants.  These would be delivered to each of my grandmothers for Mother’s Day and would hang on their porches for the remainder of the summer.  Both of them had green thumbs, much like my mother, who maintains beautiful gardens each year.  Somehow, I fell off the turnip truck and cannot seem to grow a Snake Plant, let alone baskets of rich color near my front door. Thank goodness my children are interested in developing their own abilities in the garden (although I do wish my oldest would stay out of the poison ivy!)

Investigative and imaginative, my oldest daughter’s garden is a blend of rocks, flowering plants and moss that she found somewhere – I keep hoping this is all heirloom plants from our own yard and not the neighbors’!  She is keenly interested in seeds of all kinds.

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I often find her pockets full of treasures that she intends to plant and harvest later this year.  Laundry days are never boring at our house!  I believe the cicada “shells” she gathered a couple of years ago were the “best” surprise.

And that is how mothering goes, isn’t it?  We nurture the brightest parts of their personality and surround them with the nutrients of family meals, good conversation, valuable skills, and enrich them with important truths.  Along the way, they pick up items they value.  Then, on “laundry day,” we help them to sort through these finds, determining what we hope will culture their best and brightest blooms.  In the midst of the process, it is sometimes difficult to see the success of our efforts.  But on Mother’s Day, I encourage you to take at least a few minutes this year to stop and smell the flowers.  Those blooms are the product of the hours and hours we have engaged in developing those within our area of influence.  Maybe consider visiting your local greenhouse to see what you and your family can grow together!


Frances Brooks, mom of 2
Director of Operations & Business Development

Tip of the Week: Earth Day


This Week’s Featured Recipe

It seems like, in a flash this past weekend, the world became green! After so many weeks of dull gray skies and brown, dead grass everything is suddenly a bright, shiny green. And, our family went crazy – especially the kids. To be honest, my husband isn’t much of an outdoor guy – we’ve always joked he’s more likely to garden online than to mow the grass or garden. I think this is just fine, as I don’t like to grocery shop, or cook, really.  Years ago, we traded these tasks. Somehow though, our kids LOVE to be outside, which I think is great – for their health, and for building independence, and to appreciate the space we’ve been blessed with. So, this past weekend, the kids started their own garden – complete with flowers borrowed from the neighbor and worms they dug themselves. (Their grandpa is so proud!)

As they began their project, I worked a bit at the leaves left from last year and to unearth the daffodils poking through their winter coverings of last year’s mulch and died-down plants. I’m not a big gardener, in fact, I call myself a black thumb, but I do try. We don’t have anything in our gardens that wouldn’t be considered hardy! As we messed around with a list of what needs done as April rolls through, the calendar reminded me that next week, on Monday, April 22, is Earth Day. When I brought this up at dinner, the kids wanted to find some way to celebrate this year.

After digging around for local events, we found that our family and yours can help show your support for the environment at the Eagle Marsh, just off the trailhead in Fort Wayne. To celebrate, they are holding an event that includes free workshops and demonstrations. This is a great event to teach your family about the different ways to protect our environment or “going green,” including recycling, cleaning up trash in the neighborhood, or working to promote clean and clear water. My kids cannot wait!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

Frances Brooks, Director of Marketing and Operations, wife and mom of 2

Tip of the Week: Farmer’s Markets

With so little water, our gardens at home are struggling. Be it flower, or vegetable, they certainly are requiring the attention we would not normally give them until August. So, while I wait for the heat of summer to ripen my tiny tomatoes, I’ve seen some great offerings at the local farmer’s market…onions, lettuces, even a tomato or two. I would describe myself as a seeker – I’m always on the lookout for a great deal.

One local CSA (community supported agriculture) makes their small box available each week for just $15. And it’s delivered close to home! Now, looking at some of those odd looking lettuces, or the bok choy my friend had in her box this week, will make any child turn up their nose faster than they would at a tomato worm halfway through their feast! But, when my girls pick out their own fresh foods, they seem more likely to try them.

While nothing beats picking a ripe cucumber right off the vine, picking your very own out of the bushel basket at the local market comes in a close second. And raw green beans, just freshly washed? Those are great too! Help your family appreciate these true Indiana experiences by finding out their favorites at your local market or shop.
Interested in learning about eating local and sustainable farming?

Make plans to attend the McMillen Health Lecture Series: Finding Food in Farm Country on July 17th to see how you can make a difference in our economy and your family’s health.

We have a couple garden plots open in Our Edible Garden community garden here at the McMillen Center. If you are interested in trying your hand – give us a call!

Tip of the Week: Gardening

These hot days remind me of when I was a kid and my parents had a HUGE garden. Well, to me and my sister, who had to weed it before we could go swimming, it seemed huge. As I think back, that experience of being in the dry dirt, pulling weeds with deep roots was akin to the family table. We talked up a storm. Probably not about much important, but it was a chance to spend time doing something together with a shared benefit – that cool dip in the lake for refreshment.

My parents still grow a (much smaller) garden today. My sister and I, and our families, benefit from the fresh vegetables my dad spends his time weeding. This month, watering too. Too bad I seem to have gotten a black thumb. But, that’s what farmer’s markets are for – right? There, I can still teach my girls that nothing beats a fresh, plump tomato or a just-picked-cucumber.  Thinking about your own fresh tomatoes? Learn more here.

Whichever way you come across your fresh fruits and veggies, I’ve come to the conclusion that gardening is much like a family. Nurture the plants, remove the dangers that impede their growth and tenderly care for them, from blossom to harvest.

– Frances, Mktg & Comm, wife and mom of 2

Next week, we’ll discover some great local markets. We’d love to see you on July 17 at the McMillen Health Lecture Series: Finding Food in Farm Country.

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