The fourth annual Grow Your Health Festival of Gardening, Local Food & Wellness was a huge success for the event, and for me! It can be tough to bring kids along to an event that you are “working,” that is staffing a table as I was for Mindful Healthy Life, but the family-friendly nature of the event made the whole day really enjoyable! My kids learned a lot and had a great time.
My daughter lasted a full seven hours at the event. In the morning, my colleague and site contributor Katie Cavanaugh took her on a tour of the cafeteria where the food providers were. During this time, I got to lie on the amethyst BioMat provided by Neck, Back & Beyond.
I had arrived at the event with a rare headache, so the time on the mat was a real help!
Katie returned with my daughter and hers along with a bunch of free snacks provided by MOM’s Organic Markets!
Then my daughter chatted up our nearby exhibitors: my friends from local Holistic Moms chapters, which I was also representing along with Mindful Healthy Life; and Nicole Dash, founder of the new co-working space with on-site childcare in Vienna, Play, Work or Dash.
My daughter had a great time in the childcare provided in a separate room by Play, Work or Dash. I came back after 30 minutes and she didn’t even look at me when she answered my question with an emphatic, “Stay!” So we used the full hour that was provided for free.
Later, her dad and brother joined us at the event after participating in a nearby music festival competition. For lunch, my son adored the lamb/beef broth from Fields of Athenry and the Silken Turnip Soup from 100 Bowels of Soup along with their gluten-free corn muffins. When you work so hard to feel your children healthy food that doesn’t often look like what they see other kids eating, it’s really nice for them to have the chance to see farmers and people who put a lot of love and intention into their food!
My family also sampled ghee from EatLuv, water kefir and fermented foods from Farmstead Ferments, salsa from Sandmar Mexican Salsas, Salads and More and ice cream from Inside Scoop, which will be introducing dairy-free coconut ice cream later this year.
There were so many other great vendors, too, including Whiffletree Farms, which we profiled earlier this year, Day Spring Farm , Second Spring Farm, J&L Green Farm and 4P Foods and Avery’s Branch. A complete list of exhibitors is available here.
My kids were a little late for the Gardening for Kids class with FoodCorps Washington DC office but made it in time to plant some kale, which is already sprouting now just 6 days later!
After the gardening class was the Yoga for Kids class with Sue of Beloved Yoga. “That was a great yoga class!” enthused my five-year-old. She stayed for the whole hour even after her brother opted instead to chase around my friend’s toddler. The festival atmosphere felt like a very safe and supportive community. There was a great turnout, but the wide hallways of the newly renovated Fairfax High School were well equipped to accommodate plenty of attendees as well as children and parents stopping to talk to vendors.
I was so happy to get a cell phone case from the Center for Safer Wireless, which had just presented in February at my Holistic Moms meeting and helped me understand just how much a role EMFs can play in our health.
It was great to talk about nutrition and food education with the folks from Center for Food Safety, Edible Education and Great Country Farms as well as about holistic health with the folks from Golden Health Pharmacy. Some of the folks we’ve come to expect at local health events were also at this year’s Grow Your Health, including Gainesville Holistic Health Center and National Integrated Health Associates and MTO Kombucha.
As the exhibit hall wound down, Salud Healthy Pantry brought their organic popcorn and coconut oil down to our end, near the movie. Since my children rarely get unfettered access to popcorn at most mainstream events, it was a treat for them to see this popped in a fancy popper and to eat it with abandon.
My kids and my husband and I headed home while spirits were still high. We didn’t have it in us to stay for the film screening of Growing Cities but the festival succeeded at impressing upon my kids the importance a whole lot of people place on real food and eating local and the connection between nutrition and holistic health.
Click here to see our preview post about Grow Your Health 2016.
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life. She is a writer and editor and a co-leader for the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network. Her personal blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama and her writer’s site is JessicaClaireHaney.com. See the Contributors page and Jessica’s Mindful Healthy Life Q&A for more on Jessica.