My colleague Jen Haugen is a mom first, a dietitian second. I certainly can relate to that.

Since becoming a mother twenty two years ago, I have always noted “mom” as my primary role and identity. I may not be perfect (there are empty pages and missing years in my children’s school scrapbooks), but I am content in knowing that I was present in my time with my children, and enjoyed just about every minute of it.

The Family Garden

As a child, I grew up with a family garden. My grandfather brought his green thumb from “the old country” (Italy), my father brought his artistic design to the garden with neat squares, straight rows, and perfectly weeded beds, and my mother and grandmother helped with harvesting and procurement. We had a very large garden. In addition to tomatoes, beans, peas, potatoes, beets, carrots, broccoli, swiss chard, corn, onions, and herbs, we also had dozens of fruit trees.

Me and my grandfather in 1968 holding the biggest beets every harvested.

Nurture the Soil and Yourself

Jen’s book, A Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden, isn’t just a how-to-start-a-garden book. It also encourages you to embark on a reflective journey of motherhood. It is a journey, let me tell you (check out Jen’s “How Moms Can Change the World” TedxTalk). Jen uses analogy and metaphor to illustrate how the plan for nurturing plants and nurturing your own needs are similarly important, and must be done with intention, with margins and with compost. And of course, don’t forget to keep up with the weeds!

The funny thing is, that while I really appreciate garden-fresh produce, I am not enthusiastic about working in my own vegetable garden. I’m more passionate about planting and arranging flowers. Luckily, I married a wonderful man who didn’t grow up with a garden, so he has sought to raise some vegetables for us, and plant some fruit trees, and we’ve always have anything from pots to full plots of herbs and vegetables.

Sit Down for a Quiet Read

This book is an easy read for any mother who is interested in planning and planting a garden for her young family. Fresh air and dirt are good for young children, and most young ones are very enthusiastic about helping out, and playing in the dirt. I love that Jen offers lots of ideas from container gardens, to deck gardens, to raised beds or plots – something to fit everyone’s needs. I especially love her garden theme ideas in Chapter 8 (you’ll have to order the book to find out more!).

At the end of each chapter is a short work session with four to six questions to help you think about your goals, reflect, and create an action plan.

You can easily read this book in a weekend. So give yourself this gift. Grab a cup of tea or coffee, find a cozy, quiet corner, and read it.