I was so pleased to read the recent article about garden clubs for kids (“Meet Stephanie O’Neil, founder of garden clubs for children”, Aug. 3), because I know first-hand how important that type of exposure is long-term.

When I was growing up, my mom kept a good-sized garden, and she enlisted my brother and me to help as part of our chores. I didn’t like all of it (mulching was never a favorite activity), but I didn’t mind harvesting or assisting with things like snapping beans and shelling peas.

I also developed a taste for many of the vegetables – sugar snap peas, green beans and corn were particular favorites. Admittedly, I also liked sweet things and some junk food, which contributed to me gaining weight.

But when I started losing weight as a young adult, my earlier experience with the garden helped considerably. I didn’t have to be convinced that I might like fruits and vegetables. I only had to be reminded how much I already enjoyed them.

That made it relatively easy for me to switch from chips to carrots and cucumbers, from cookies and candy to cherry tomatoes, blueberries and apples. I rediscovered the natural sweetness in those foods and found that the sugary snacks I once craved became less appealing.

I still enjoy sweeter desserts, but the balance for me these days is much more on the whole, natural foods I can find at farmers markets and in the produce aisle. I hope that the kids working in these gardens have the same experience.

Erica L. Bartlett

Portland