You’ve tackled waste-free lunches, eco-friendly birthday parties and volunteerism. But now you’re feeling inadequate because your toddler hasn’t quite developed a green thumb or caught on to the farm-to-table concept (darn the Bay Area real estate market, with our postage-stamp sized backyards!). What’s a 21st century mom to do?

Head down to SF Flower and Garden Show this weekend, where the kid’s hall, Sproutopia, frequently steals the show. Designed to educate and entertain through hands-on activities, Sproutopia will get the whole family digging, and hopefully, the gardening will continue well into the future in your own backyards too.

Getting there:
The San Francisco Flower & Garden Show takes place at the San Mateo Event Center on Saratoga Drive in San Mateo. If you’re driving, there is plenty of parking at the Center’s East and West lots for $12 a day. If you’re taking public transportation, Caltrain offers the easiest option with kids, because there’s less transferring. Exit at the Hillsdale Station and look for signs pointing to the Show’s free shuttle, which comes in around every 15 minutes.

When to go:
Wednesday, March 21  –  Sunday, March 25, 10 a.m – 5 p.m.
Weekdays offer thinner crowds, and half-day tickets are available for all five days if you arrive after 3 p.m. (2 p.m. on Sunday).

You’ll probably be spending most of your time in Sproutopia, the children’s hall where stories and activities geared toward kids and families take place every day, including fun with fruits and vegetables, flower arranging, digging in the dirt, and journaling about garden goodness. During the weekend, there are scheduled presentations – so check the schedule online in case you’re budding gardener is interested in bonsai gardening or meeting the monarchs.

What to see:
In addition to the fun-filled activities in the interactive playground that is Sproutopia, there are also Children’s Gardens, a museum of container gardens created by schoolchildren. Each has a creative theme, such as Dr. Seuss or dinosaurs. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunity for your kids to build a garden of their own, as well. Custom-built playhouses are also on display in Sproutopia – and they’re not just for looking but exploring. Also check out a display of carnivorous plants. Outside Sproutopia, there are numerous seminars, exhibits, food demonstrations, and of course, full-size garden displays to see. 

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What to bring:

  • transport for the littlest littles – the show is stroller friendly but carriers are always convenient, especially during weekend peak hours, when it’s easier to get through crowds without the wheels.
  • an extra tote bag to bring home all the fun crafts and garden goodies the kids will acquire, as well as the plants and garden accessories you may be tempted to purchase.
  •  Plenty of food will be on hand to satisfy the munchies – so it’s safe to leave the sandwiches at home.

Online: sfgardenshow.com

Photo credit: Top photo courtesy of FarOutFlora.com – a very cool Bay Area gardening site that you should check out!

–Renee Macalino Rutledge