Who are the Green Thumb Kids? It all started with five year old Kainen. He loved growing plants. He also needed help with beginning addition. So we combined the two and helped him grow plants to sell, and while they grew, he worked hard on math questions such as “one plant and one plant equals?”and “if each plant is a dollar, how much would two plants cost?”
The time came for real life experience – taking the tray of plants door to door in his neighbourhood and doing the math all by himself. Patient neighbours waited while our little boy struggled to add up their total. At the end of the project he had a handful of money, an empty plant box and a big smile – and a new found love that was going to carry us into a business we had never dreamed about. What started as a homeschool math and science project has blossomed into a passion for growing things.
The story continues when 3 year old Kamrynn joined the operation. She trotted behind Kainen, this time with the plants in a wagon rather than a box, and cheerfully took her turn at saying, “Would you like to buy a plant? They are one dollar!” Aliyah joined soon with her shy smile and Alex followed, his first job was appointed by Kainen when he was two years old – “Sit and smile at people”. The years went by and they joined their efforts to become The Green Thumb Kids.
Every year they re-evaluate what they are doing and every year the passion grows even deeper. “We need to grow more! People love our plants. I need more veggies out there, mine all sold!” They negotiate the number of seedlings and rows to market garden up…Mom and Dad try to negotiate the number back down to a “doable” level. They eagerly put their heads together to figure out such mundane details as profit margin, seed costs, square footage of greenhouse, etc, etc…
Every year they have grown more, moving over the years from twenty plants on the windowsill to thousands of plants in our light-shelves/greenhouse and approximately a half acre under cultivation. And yes, the plants and veggies are all “kid grown”, from start to finish. They seed and eagerly wait. They cheer when “their” seeds sprout. They mist, water and fertilize. Then transplant hundreds of tomato seedlings! They hold them up and brag and pose for Daddy and the camera. They each “own” their varieties of tomatoes and herbs – ones they grow every year – ones they grow in our garden, nurture and weed (sometimes) and often save fresh seeds in the fall. If a plant doesn’t pass their taste test, it is struck from the sales list. They check each order form to see if someone ordered one of “theirs”. If love makes plants grow better, these ones have had love since they were a “seed”.
Some tidbits about the Green Thumb Kids’ summer plans: (Updated for 2018)
Kainen was wowed by the success of his field of Sweet Corn. This coming spring, he will be moving his sweet corn to his new rotation field, in accordance with organic standards, he plans to rest/green manure and cover crop the field he grew in last year. In addition to the seedling growing, apprenticing under Papa (Grandpa) to become a beekeeper and running his own lawn care and snow removal business – he has decided to increase his market garden to include pumpkins, grown around the edge of his corn field. He has spent the winter studying things like soil analysis, fertilizer composition, micronutrient requirements, cover crops basics and the nitty gritty details of irrigation systems, and of course….corn varieties that are successful in our short season! He plans to help improve the farm stand and build on a sun roof for shade – and keep the farm stand filled with great corn!
Kamrynn and Aliyah are eager for their first crop of strawberries expected this year. Yum! And possibly the first of their raspberry field could be producing. This year has them planning to put in a couple hundred more raspberries and a couple hundred more strawberries. They are excited and undaunted by the hours of work ahead of them and can’t wait to have fresh fruit to sell (and eat!).
320 cloves of garlic were planted by Kamrynn in the fall and thoroughly mulched for the winter. The girls spent their “spare” hours in the winter considering, learning, arguing and discussing such details as fruit texture, cold hardiness zones, cost vs projected income, irrigation costs, mulch types, etc. And determined to keep the farm stand full, this year they plan to add in more veggies – each choosing which ones will be “mine” to grow. I hear them talk of squash, onions, shallots, beans, potatoes, carrots, peas…etc…etc! Their enthusiasm knows no end. You will see them selling the veggies at the roadside stand while they wait for their fruit to grow to production age. (Watch for the first strawberries summer 2018) Their personal summer goal for the upcoming season is to continue with their potato breeding project, working from TPS (true potato seed) they have selected their unique varieties and will test the varieties performance in our solid Ardrossan clay soil. Their treasure? A stash of TPS from a neon pink potato, gifted to them by a fellow plant lover. Watch the farmstand for never before seen varieties of potatoes in wild colours!
Alex was born into a plant loving family and he loves plants as much as his siblings. Since he could talk, the only tomato he would eat was “Starfire”. He grew it himself, checked to see if it was a “Starfire” on his plate, and still grows it every year. His devotion to his plants makes us smile, and sometimes chuckle…like the time he moved his tomatoes away from the window saying that tomato plants don’t like to watch it snow outside! His plans for last summer was to “de-hybridize” one of his favourite tomatoes and develop an open pollinated variety. His attempts yielded a unique orange variety. He will candidly explain that it will be ready to sell when he is eleven or twelve. He has planted a butternut tree and wants to grow his own nuts and figures that they may produce when he is eleven or twelve as well. Patience is his virtue!
He plans to grown more tomatoes to sell at roadside, as well as dill and cantaloupe. He also is part of the (TPS) potato breeding project, his own seeds labeled with a handwritten ALEX in case they should get mixed with the others. He thinks cutting open new potato varieties to see their colours inside is one of the most exciting thing he can imagine and he can’t wait to see what comes from his treasured seeds.