Need some greenspiration? Hazel Baby & Kids has local tips for how to get your little one planting, growing and watering their own plants and flowers this Earth Day—and every day.
While day hikes, farms and green spaces are only a car ride away from Jersey City, sometimes making it outside of our concrete jungle isn’t so easy with little ones. Luckily, there are tons of ways to bring the outdoors into our homes, as well as contribute to our local green spaces.
And with Earth Day upon us, Hazel Baby & Kids has the tools you need to jump into spring!
I’ve notoriously neglected every houseplant I’ve ever had, but I’m trying to change that—while also hoping to give my two-year-old son an appreciation for what it means to nurture and grow something. A great way to get started with gardening is to plant a little garden right in your apartment or house. This easy-to-use indoor gardening kit from Hazel comes with pods for teddy bear sunflower, basil and zinnia, and is the perfect start for anyone, non-green thumbs and tiny thumbs alike. But if your child isn’t quite ready for the real thing, this wooden vegetable garden is a great way to practice “planting” and gain an early appreciation for gardening.
If you’re a little more ambitious than I am with your gardening, and are especially interested in bigger plants if you have more space, like a patio or a rooftop/backyard garden, the family-run 14th Street Garden Center is a great place to explore, find a wide variety of plants and flowers and learn how to care for them.
But of course, now that the weather is warming up, we all want to be outside as much as possible! And even if we don’t have our own gardens, two wonderful kid-friendly gardens are right nearby in Jersey City: the Waldo Ave Community Garden and Ogden’s End Garden.
Both spaces are open to the public and welcoming to children, who can come water and weed (with a parent or guardian’s help!) or just chase butterflies and enjoy the fresh air.
To really make your child feel part of the experience, he or she can bring their own gear, like Hazel’s watering can and tools, though both gardens have these available for use. Your little ones will also need a hat and sunscreen for sun protection—Hazel carries a variety of children’s sun hats, and sunscreen sticks, lotions, and sprays, as well as lots of lightweight yet durable clothing great for playing and planting and digging.
At Waldo Ave, Brandy Belenky is looking forward to organizing classes for kids that combine crafts and gardening, like painting a small pot and then growing beans in it.
“Beans are super-easy to grow,” Belenky says. “And that way we're teaching [children] about growing things, and they have a fun art project.”
Waldo Ave’s gardening plots are member owned but anyone can come in to contribute by weeding, watering and the like. Belenky also says she plans to hold various events in the garden for both children and adults—yoga and/or meditation, potlucks, crafts for kids, classes on kombucha brewing and kimchi making, tie-dye, and composting are all possible future events and classes. Belenky invites Jersey City residents to follow Waldo Ave Community Garden on Facebook to check out upcoming events.
At Ogden's End Garden, Coordinator Nick Buffum invites families interested in growing and planting to come out during the garden’s Saturday volunteer sessions.
“That is a great time to get a tour of the garden and talk to people knowledgeable regarding the plants, insects and wildlife you might find,” Buffum says. “We encourage residents to use the space.”
Buffum often brings his own child, who is two, to the garden on Saturdays.
Announcements regarding important volunteer days (for spring cleanups, planting or build-outs for larger projects) are on the Ogden’s End Facebook page. The garden also partners with the City of Jersey City to organize dinners for local seniors using vegetables grown on-site, and holds an annual block party fundraiser around harvest time. In the past, Jersey City teachers have also organized mini field trips, bringing their classes in for garden tours and healthy “tastings” of what’s grown in Ogden’s End.
Of course, not every kid is into growing things in the dirt; some kiddos want to know what’s already in it—worms, leaves, rocks and more. With the Dig & Discover! kit, available at Hazel, your little scientist can uncover, study and record all their findings.
Well, the sun is out, the temperature is up—welcome, springtime, and happy Earth Day!