Jennie Garth is going from the Hills of Beverly to a digital garden. Garth is starring in a brand new web series entitled Garden Party, which just debuted yesterday on iVillage.com/GardenParty. Garth recently held a conference call to discuss this new web series, and here's what she had to say.
So it looks like you're having, you know, just a really good time selling the series and interacting with the kids. How did this project come about? How did you get involved with it?
Jennie Garth: Well, you know, I did have such a great time doing Garden Party. I didn't know that I would get to interact so much with the kids but we ended up in the middle of a field in LA and we were totally gardening and eating vegetables all day. We had so much fun. How I got involved was, you know, a lot of people my age are moms. And so I'm a pretty recognizable face for a certain age woman and people that grew up watching Beverly Hills 90210, the original show. And so now a lot of us women have kids. And one of the, you know, big issues is how to get - make sure our kids are eating healthy. And I know I struggle with it with my own kids. And I love to talk to other women about, you know, relevant issues and this is definitely a relevant issue so they came to me and asked me to do this Web series and ended up being a really fun time.
Now you seem also very comfortable talking about the foods and talking about different, you know, serving options that exist and making them more appealing to kids and that. Do you consider yourself something of a food, I mean, did you have this knowledge ahead of time or did you find that you learned a lot yourself in doing this series?
Jennie Garth: You know, I thought I knew everything there was to know about a vegetable but after I did this I learned so much everyday just shooting this. I think that anybody that watches it will be kind of surprised too. And I got some really great tips. Everyday I would come home from shooting this Web thing and I would try a new vegetable at home. And the kids were into and so it did actually end up teaching me about new vegetables, new little tricks I could try to get my kids to eat them. And so it was a learning experience. But I am kind of a foodie, I like food and I love to cook.
Why do you think people will want to take their time to watch Garden Party?
Jennie Garth: Well I think that there are a lot of moms out there that are like me and they're a little lost when it comes to how do I get my kids to eat vegetables? I know they're supposed to eat them and I know, you know, it's our responsibility to give these kids a balanced diet and not only just, you know, feed them but teach them how to incorporate vegetables into their own diets when they get old enough to choose, you know, what they're eating when they're away from you. So I think that that was - is the reason I did it was to help, you know, educate other moms and educate myself about vegetables.
Other than a particular vegetable type that you were introduced to was there something about vegetables in particular you learned from doing this?
Jennie Garth: Something about vegetables that I learned from doing this? I learned about, you know, going straight to the fields. If you can in your neighborhood going to local farmer's markets to get fresh produce and try to stay away from - try to buy local which was something that I learned about, you know, that I didn't really think of before. But, you know, when you think about all the shipping and how far the vegetables are traveling when they're coming from Chile and all these places. It's best to get the freshest, quickest, closest to you grown vegetable you can. And I also learned that, you know, I always thought maybe putting dressing or dip or whatever was not so good for kids but this is actually a great alternative, a way to get your kids introduced to vegetables and get them to like them. And I think a great tip is to when they're hungry and they come home from school they want a snack and just put out, you know, some vegetables that you've cut up and a little bit of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing and they dip it in there, they eat it up because they're hungry and all the sudden they're craving vegetables and dip.
And then what about for you and your like relationship with vegetables growing up and everything like that? I know you grew up on a ranch. So was that kind of the start of you really liking like fresh foods and things like that?
Jennie Garth: Yeah we had a big garden since I can remember growing up. We would always - and we lived way out in the country and we didn't have a lot of money so my mom - we always had our, you know, our vegetables grown in our garden and we would be out there taking care of them and growing them and gardening. So doing this Web series really sort of brought me back to my roots I guess - excuse the pun. And I really enjoy, you know, I can remember when I was little walking in the corn fields in Illinois and just having fresh corn whenever you wanted it right outside your door. So it was quite a luxury. I didn't know it then but I appreciate it now.
I always found that when I was growing up we always had a vegetable garden too. And it was such a bonding thing. And my parents, even though they're elderly, they're in their 70s, they still have a vegetable garden every year. And my children, you know, really connect with their grandparents. And I was just wondering if you can talk about the bigger picture of gardening which is just kind of - it's a really bonding experience. And if you could just elaborate more on that and what you hope - what values you hope your own children will take as they grow older.
Jennie Garth: Well, you know, we - I haven't had a garden for a while. We have a garden at our ranch but we don't live there. So we live in the city and we didn't have a garden. My husband's father came in and helped us plant a garden in our front yard. I said I don't care, I want a garden. Rip up the grass let's get it going, you know. And we made it happen. And over a weekend we put in this really great little garden. And it's just fun and I can be cooking and I say oh girls go get me a cucumber or go get me some tomatoes and they love going out there and picking it and having that connection with what they're actually eating. And as far as like what it means to our family I think any tradition you can pass along to your children that you had when you were younger are priceless.
Is NBC going to be doing more Trojan horse type advertising with a good message in other words picking products? Are you going to be involved in more sort of Web series where the advertisers are worked into a storyline that's also educational? Are you going to be...
Jennie Garth: You know, I think it's a great - it's definitely a great medium. I'm very proud to be a part of this, you know, I've never done something like this, like an education sort of Web series. But I loved it. I love teaching people and I love talking to other women about what I know and what they know and sharing information. So I think this is a great place to do that. So I hope they do, I don't really know about their future plans so.
Now I want to know why is it important for children to learn where their food comes from or even how to grow their own?
Jennie Garth: Well I think it gives them a sense of sort of investment, you know, they care about what, you know, when you teach your kids instead of just sort of preaching to them, when you teach them about why something is good for them they want to do the right thing. Kids have this inherent quality to want boundaries and they want to do the right thing. So when they know how good for them eating fresh vegetables from the garden is instead of, you know, packaged and processed foods they want to take care of themselves and they want to be healthy and strong and be able to run and play. So this is, you know, it's vital information to children to parents to teach their kids that what they're eating and how it's affecting their body and their performance at school, you know.
What have you found is the easiest way to introduce vegetables into your children's diet and make it fun for them?
Jennie Garth: Well the, you know, the old go-to for any mom is to dip it in the Hidden Valley Ranch because that stuff like's magic. It tastes really good and kids think that they're having a treat but really they're getting the nutrients from the vegetables and it really makes it a little easier.
So aside from the dip is presentation key like what if you made it into a funny face or something does that work?
Jennie Garth: Yeah you can, I mean, I did some of that in the Web series too making funny faces out of the vegetables or letting the kids actually participate in preparing them. They love to like cut and peel stuff, you know, so if you can get your kids up on the kitchen counter helping you to prepare their vegetables, that's always an incentive for them.
I saw there are a lot of (episodes) everything from going to the farm and seeing where vegetables are grown to actually what to do with the vegetables when you get them home. But what was your favorite part of filming the show?
Jennie Garth: Oh, you know, I wasn't sure that I was going to have as much as I ended up having. Just being out in the fields, we were out at a local farm here and being out there with the real farmers and with the kid and we got to spray off all the fruits and pick them and, you know, chop them and eat them right out there on the farm; it was a lot of fun. And just I had a good time - we did like a neighborhood veggie party one episode. And just chatting with like this woman that was - we called her grandma because she was everybody's grandma. And just hearing everybody's stories, you know, and how they like to eat their vegetables and what, you know, what it means to them to feed their kids and their families fresh healthy foods. I'm kind of one of those women that likes to sit and gab with other women, you know, and share stories. So I think that was a lot of fun for me.
I wanted to know what your thoughts are on doing a Web series versus being involved, you know, in a TV series and kind of what differences there were or if there were any differences involved in this project from other projects you've worked on in the past?
Jennie Garth: Well this Web - I've done Web series that were purely for entertainment. I did one other Web series, it was for entertainment. But this was more of an educational angle. I thought it was a great way to sort of partner NBC up with Hidden Valley Ranch and not only advertise the product but at the some time teach people some valuable information. So I was excited to jump on board and sort of be the vegetable spokes-lady, you know. And I learned a lot along the way. And it was very easy filming it. It was something that wasn't a huge time commitment for me. And it was quick and voila, now it's on the Web and it's going to be reaching just thousands of people and it's going to be teaching so many people about vegetables that they - these things that they didn't know and different ways for moms to get their kids to eat veggies.
And so you mentioned all to of times also that, you know, fresh vegetables are really important and everyone knows that, you know, coming out of the ground they're a lot tastier. Not everyone, you know, can get them right out of the ground. So what's the next best thing, you know, should people only get fresh vegetables? Is it okay to go with frozen or canned vegetables, you know, where does, you know, all of that stand?
Jennie Garth: Sure. I think, you know, I would definitely check your community, search for farmer's markets. So many areas are having these farmer's market or maybe there's like a little farm stand in your town - I have that up in a town that I visit - where they just sell vegetables on the roadside, you know, that they've picked out of their garden. That's something you can do if you live in a really rural area. I would say - and my personal choice if I can't get fresh I usually go to frozen next and my last resort would be canned. I think that, you know, that - I don't know - I don't love canned vegetables. And I don't feel like I'm eating anything when I'm eating them so that would be my preference.
I asked my readers what one question they would want to ask you if they could and they would like to know if - well they commented on your youthful appearance and the fact that you never seem to age. And they're wondering if that has anything to do with your diet with vegetables? And that could possibly be an incentive to children for the future to look to so that they know that eating vegetables can help them do the same thing.
Jennie Garth: Well they don't even think they're ever going to age, you know, when you're a kid you're like oh I can eat Doritos at every meal and it's okay. But as you get older you start to realize that there's such a direct connection with what you put in your body and on your face and your skin, you know. And so I try to keep everything as organic and pure as I can. There's just so many toxic chemicals out there in our food and in our creams and lotions so I really try to stay organic with my fruits and vegetables and definitely eat like a, you know, a very color diet, it's really important to your overall health so your internal organs and your skin, you know, your beauty. But another thing is to try to keep chemicals out of your skincare products and your healthcare products.
Did any traveling for the show to go to any further away farms or anything or if you mostly stay local?
Jennie Garth: We stayed local. We, you know, we went to Santa Barbara which was this, you know, great weather and a lot of beautiful vegetables up there. And we went to Underwood Farms which is local here about 30 minutes out of town. So, yeah, we kind of stayed, you know, within a two hour radius of LA.
I was curious what other projects you have going on right now if you're not doing as much 90210 or if you have any more educational-type projects or anything else coming up?
Jennie Garth: I am the spokesperson for the American Heart Association so I'm doing a lot of work with them especially with February coming which is, you know, Heart Awareness Month. And I am working on a children's book. I love kids and I love to read to my kids so I'm working on a book series for kids. And I, you know, I have all kinds of irons in the fire. My husband is writing a script that we're sort of developing for television so we'll see.
We were wondering if you ever miss farm life enough that you would want to move back to your ranch permanently and get out of the city?
Jennie Garth: You know, that's something that Peter and I talk about a lot. And it's actually what - where my interest lies. You know, I just have to get my city boy on board with that.
I was looking over the Garden Party press release and two things caught my eye along with the little videos and all that is the Cook and Tell cookbook and the What's for Dinner meal planner. I have three little ones and I'm always asking myself what I'm going to make for dinner that night, not always prepared. Can you tell us a little bit about both of those elements?
Jennie Garth: Right well they go along with the Web series. And they're just really chocked full of helpful information that you can take from the Website. And it's just lots of great tips for moms, ideas, you know, I'm always running out of ideas what to cook for dinner and how to make a vegetable or how to get a balanced meal in my kids. So these are just really helpful tools that parents can sort of have in their toolkit.
And do any of the recipes hide the vegetables? Like you - that seems to be the thing nowadays you're seeing all these cookbook where you're hiding the vegetables. Are you doing that or is it more of...
Jennie Garth: I do that. I do that. I'm not very familiar - I'm not 100% familiar with what the content is on - that they've updated in the product but it definitely do that with my girls. I make their favorite is spaghetti and I put - I can't even tell you how many zucchinis yellow and green, big giant onions, bags full of carrot and fresh garlic that they're eating and they have no idea.
Now I think the show is based on a great idea. And it seems like you're really giving great ideas to parents like me who happen to have picky eaters. What is it that you think that has caused our kids these days to have a problem with their diets and do you think it's just the fast food or the - why they would rather grab something that's not natural and healthy for them?
Jennie Garth: Oh my gosh because we're so busy. I mean, you know, everybody's running a million miles an hour. And I get it but it just takes a little bit of thinking ahead, you know, as a parent, as a mom you've got to think ahead to stock your cabinets with things that you know that they're going to - they're going to want and they're going to eat. And preparing foods, you know, there's so many - you walk through the store and it's just all prepackaged convenience foods now. And you think oh I could just buy this and be done with it but if you think about it it's so much better for you to go home and cook it from scratch actually make that meal instead of just open a package, you know. And they get so many more nutrients. So, you know, I understand moms are busy, moms work, moms have a lot going on but you just have to sort of plan it into your day how you're going to better feed your kids, you know. And you just start feeding them a more balanced healthy diet, you know, like I said when I make a meal for my family I set it down and we eat it; there's no griping about it, you know, and I teach them to be thankful for the food that they have and, you know, it's just about taking that time and that sort of persistence as a parent.