The real harvest is the joy of a new experience.

I don’t know how much truth there is in all these studies that try to determine why some people behave in certain ways and other people don’t. I realize that both heredity and environment play a big role in how kids develop, but when those children reach adulthood, they become responsible for their actions and shouldn’t be blaming anyone else when things don’t go right for them.

I will tell you one thing that I do believe in very strongly. I believe that the habits you develop as a child will carry over into your adulthood. And that’s why good parenting is so important. If you grew up as a slob because your parents allowed that, you’ll probably be a slob as an adult. And if you grew up learning how to handle money properly as a child, you will probably handle it more wisely as an adult. It’s crucial to instill good habits into children and provide them with opportunities to learn about the important things in life.

Here’s an example. As a general rule, inner-city kids are not given much of an opportunity to learn about planting, growing and harvesting food. There aren’t too many gardens in the concrete jungle, and even if there were more, it probably wouldn’t be considered a cool thing to do.

But the Mission Thrive Camp program taught Baltimore high school students how to plant, care for and harvest vegetables last summer, and hopefully they’ll do it again next summer. The camp’s goal was to help the students learn how to live a healthier lifestyle, in part by growing vegetables at the Real Food Farm in east Baltimore. The students also learned how to cook healthy meals with the vegetables that they harvested. The camp culminated with a student-run health expo.

Now, I have no idea what’s going to become of those high school students after they move on to college or a job. But I’m willing to bet that when they become adults, they will look back on this experience fondly and appreciate what they were taught. I would bet that some of them will make it a priority to have a healthy diet and maybe find a way to have a garden in their yard someday. And they will likely pass those good habits along to their children.

How about you? Were you taught about growing your own vegetables and fruits as a kid? Did your parents model gardening and self-reliance for you? If so, was that a factor in how you turned out as an adult? Sure hope to hear from you about this subject.

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