Love the idea of family farming but don’t know where to start? Don’t despair! You need not have grown up on Green Acres to be able to learn a little about living off the land with the following six Atlanta area courses and nature centers. Each is family friendly, so you and your seedlings can pick a topic that interests you all and tackle it together.


Family Vegetable Gardening 101
On Saturday, March 15, you and the kiddos can learn a thing or two about the food chain as you start your summer seeds and practice transitioning plants from starter containers to their permanent summer homes. Not only is this course hands-on (a.k.a. keeps my kid’s attention), but you’ll also leave with your very own 72-cell plug tray filled with fruit and veggie seeds.

Details: Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, $44 (Members $39) for one adult and up to two children ages 6-18, 10:00 a.m. – Noon, Click here to register or call 404-876-5859


Spring Break Fun at the Garden
Not entirely optimistic that your crew will embrace the commitment of a full-sized garden for the growing season, but still want to woo them with a little horticultural love? Head to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for a week filled with activities they’ll be buzzing about. Each morning will hold different surprises as kids of all ages can dress up like butterflies and learn about their role in the garden, dig for worms while discussing soil preparation, and plant their own seeds. This is neither a camp nor part of their drop-off programming, so adults get the chance to explore and learn with their kiddos. Be sure to hit the Children’s Garden Amphitheater for Storybook Time at 10:30 each day!

Details: Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, Free with admission, Monday – Friday, April 7 – 11 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Spring Gardening with Miss Lady Bug
Join the Wylde Center on April 3rd from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. as they plan and plant their garden beds for the season. Families will help select and plant veggies from the Center’s plant sale, and each young gardener gets to decorate a pot, plant a vegetable, and take it home for some TLC. Best part? This is a drop-off optional event for kids ages six and older! Be sure to call ahead and reserve your spot.

Details: Wylde Center, Oakhurst Garden, 435 Oakview Road, Decatur, GA 30030, 404-371-1920, $12 per family ($7 for members)


Tour of (Chicken) Homes: Urban Coop Tour
We know. Plenty of fashionable magazines have made backyard coop keeping look like an ideal family hobby (plus some of those designer coops are so darn cute!). If your interest in urban chicken coops has been piqued, you and the kiddos won’t want to miss the self-guided 2014 Urban Coop Tour of 12 in-town coops. You’ll have the opportunity to pick the brains of the coop owners and find out just how glamourous coop keeping really is (or isn’t), and talk with people who can point you in the right direction to get started on your own backyard chicken Taj Majal.

Details: 2014 Urban Coop Tour, sponsored by the Wylde Center, March 29-30, Noon – 5:00 p.m., Coops are located in Decatur and Grant Park, $20 admission fee ($25 during Coop Tour weekend), Register online or by calling 404-371-1920


Beekeeping 101
On Saturday, March 29, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the beekeeper of the Oakhurst Garden hives will take you and your family on a tour of the sticky world of beekeeping. Learn about bee colonies, various types of bees, and what equipment you’ll need to get started. Weather permitting, you can even take a peek into one of the hives, so be sure to wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants.

Details: Wylde Center, 435 Oakview Road, Decatur, GA 30030, 404-371-1920, Advance registration required, $20 ($25 per non-member)


Blue Heron Nature Preserve
What do you do when you have a houseful of naturalists with diverging interests? Head to the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, where programs ranging from nest making to flower arranging to bee keeping are on the docket. Mud pies? You bet. Recycling “art” -ifacts? Done. Worms and composting? Absolutely. The only catch is that you need to 1) call ahead, and 2) call some buddies. The classes are led by a naturalist and are designed for scouts, school children, and garden clubs.

Details: Blue Heron Nature Preserve, 4055 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA 30342, 404- 345-1008, $8 per person for a tour of the preserve, $10 per person for an activity to be included with a tour


Parting Thoughts
So let’s talk best case scenario: you and your family head to one of the aforementioned programs, get totally psyched, turn your backyard into a huge garden, and end up with more veggies than you can get your kids (and all the kids you know) to eat. Awesome. Instead of pitching the surplus or plying your friends with zucchini, contact the Atlanta Community Food Bank to find out about ways to help our hungry neighbors by donating your garden’s yield.

How does your garden grow? Share with us below!

—Shelley Massey

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons via FlickrWylde Center via Facebook, Blue Heron Nature Preserve via Facebook and the author