How Jennifer Garner Gets Her Hands Dirty (Literally) to Prioritize Health With Her Kids

In the early aughts, Jennifer Garner’s portrayal of super-spy Sydney Bristow not only earned her a Golden Globe Award (and four Emmy nominations), but helped set a new standard for strong, smart, totally butt-kicking leading ladies on TV. Now, she’s teamed up with two other badass babes, Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner (the creators of Girls), to return to prime time for the first time in over 12 years as the star of HBO’s Camping.

But to make room for her new role, Garner’s needed to shift things around in an existing one: mom of three kids. How does she make time for family meal prep and bedtime stories while also keeping up with a demanding shooting schedule and helping run Once Upon a Farm, the healthy baby food company she co-founded? I asked her.

Keep reading for Jennifer’s top healthy parenting tips.

You’re heading back to TV! What kind of a schedule does this mean for you and your family—are you looking at a total overhaul of your daily routine?
The schedule for TV is pretty intense—I’m gone 14 hours most days and have lines to learn when I get home at night. This job is great, though, because it’s an ensemble cast and not all on my shoulders—which means I do get a random morning or day off almost every week. And because we start most days super early in the morning, even with the longer days, I make it home to read to at least one or two kids after work.

My kids are used to the strange rhythm of production —I’m either very much home and available, or I’m working a bunch and leaving notes everywhere for them to find during the day. I have great help at my house and it all works out.

When life gets *busy,* are there certain moments or rituals you make sure you do with your kids every day?
There are lots of little traditions the kids and I have together. Right now our blueberry bushes are going nuts, so we sneak down and pick blueberries together on the weekends. But my most valuable time with the kids is bedtime—I have different books going with each of my kids and they each get their own time [with me], even if it has to be condensed!

I love that you like to garden and farm with your kids. How did this come about?
My mom grew up on a little farm in Oklahoma with cows, chickens, fresh veggies—you name it. Everything they ate, other than sugar and flour, they grew and raised. When I was a little girl, my mother always told me and my siblings fantastic, vivid tales of growing up on the farm during the summertime, when they would eat like kings, with fresh produce by the bunches and routine delicacies like homemade ice cream.

It’s that same enchanted love for homemade and fresh that defines how my family lives at home today. We have bee hives in our yard, my kids have their bee suits and like to get involved with it all—it’s so fun, it’s like a living science experiment. In our garden, we grow tons of fruits and vegetables and we’re so lucky to live where we live, because we can grow almost anything—we can’t stop planting new things!

Why is healthy eating so important for you and your family?
I was lucky to grow up eating garden-grown, fresh, homemade nutritious food with a mom who prepared our meals on a daily basis. I was well educated on how important of a role clean eating plays in our daily lives. It’s key for us to know exactly what we are putting into our bodies in order to feel good and alive with energy. This was my mom’s lifestyle, which she instilled in me and my sisters, and it’s what I want for my kids—and really, all kids, at the end of the day. That’s why I’m so passionate about Once Upon a Farm.

How did you get involved with Once Upon a Farm?
As a mom with my own three school-aged kids, it’s become something of a tradition to feed my family using that same farm-to-family approach. But the reality remains, I have three lunch boxes to pack each day. So I understand, firsthand, how much of a challenge making every meal “fresh” can be, especially when busy schedules demand parents to meal prep in advance.

When I cofounded Once Upon a Farm, it was if all the stars aligned. My decade of work focused on early literacy and healthy food access as a Save the Children ambassador and my passion for nourishing my family with those same wholesome foods suddenly exploded into this incredible opportunity for me to do good by families everywhere by making organic, farm-fresh foods delicious and convenient.

Is there one healthy food your kids hate?
There are plenty of healthy foods my kids don’t like! I have typical picky eaters, for sure. I would say we’re in the camp of not mixing flavors and textures more than we are picky about specific foods. I was the pickiest kid ever when I was little, so I try to stay calm when they turn down something I know they would love—but I’m not always successful.

How do you fit in workouts between work and family life?
I work out early—really early, and I always work out on both Saturday and Sunday, to give me more guilt-free days when things get too hairy during the week. For the past four years I’ve been loving working out with Simone de la Rue, who started Body by Simone. I love the classes—full of energy and movement and fun women, and would recommend them—or Simone’s awesome app! —to anyone.

What’s your favorite wellness habit with the kids?
I love to hike with my kids on Sunday afternoons. And I have been known to bribe them to meditate.

How do you unwind after a stressful day?
If we can get outside, even for a minute, the whole evening moves more easily.


Jennifer Garner on the Seven Beehives, Six Chickens, and Occasional Oreo in Her House

The actress is committed to good food for kids, from her own children to her new business, Once Upon a Farm.

On occasion, Oreos do enter the home of Jennifer Garner. Her and Ben Affleck’s kids, Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel, who range in age from 12 to 6, haven’t just heard tell of this “cookie” thing, what with their two chocolate wafers bookending a pad of cream filling. It’s just that having an Oreo in the house “would happen on such a special occasion that it would be such a moment,” Garner told Vanity Fair’s Krista Smith at the second annual Founders Fair on Thursday.

“Or if Ben is around, that might happen. And then he gets credit for it. And I want to be like, ‘I like Oreos, too! I’m fun, too!’”

Garner is talking cookies at Vanity Fair’s forum for women and entrepreneurial leadership because she believes she’s making something better for kids younger even than her own. She joined former Annie’s C.E.O. John Foraker at Once Upon a Farm, a cold-pressed baby and toddler foodery, as the chief brand officer in September. Find pouches of the fruit and vegetable blends in the refrigerator aisle of your local grocery store.

How we feed children is on her mind, and has been for a long time. “Obviously the best thing to do is to be able to make homemade, healthy food, and I did that for my kids,” she told Smith. “I steamed it and I ground it and I would go to the restaurant and sit there and grind it and do the whole thing.

“And that’s great. But it’s not easy and we’re all really busy. And for the times when you want to feed your kids something as rich and textured and tasty as you would make, this is the obvious answer.”

Garner’s commitment to the project isn’t just rooted in her children. She bought her family farm in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, from her uncle and hired him to grow organic products for Once Upon a Farm. She admits, “It’s a little bit about the marketing of it, the authenticity of this is my family. This is what I come from, I am a farmer’s daughter’s daughter. If you go to my house in California, you will see—and this is a very L.A. thing, it’s still part of me—but you’ll see seven beehives, and you’ll see seven chickens. (Except now it’s six chickens because we just lost one.) And you’ll see a little orchard and a bunch of blueberry bushes and a garden we eat out of every single day.”

When Garner is not farming (or making baby food, or working with Save the Children, or raising her own children, or finishing her workout before most people wake up), you can find her on a screen near you. Garner is making her return to TV for the first time since Alias in Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s sophomore HBO show, Camping. It’s slated to premiere in 2019.

“What I love about TV is the relationships,” she told Smith. “You go to work long enough with the same people that you actually go through the I love you. This is the most fun. I think I might hate you. Actually, no. I love you and I love you for good. And that’s family. That’s why people always say, ‘Oh, our TV show was a family.’ When you can’t get rid of the other people, you’re stuck with them no matter what, you see them at their best or at their worst. That is what TV means to me. So far I’m only in love with this cast. I’m sure we’ll stay that way.”

Garner’s return to television doesn’t mean that she’s neglecting her film career. She flexed her fighting muscles once again for Peppermint, a revenge tale that opens this fall. “It was so fun. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I fought and fought and fought. It was so fun to force myself to get back into that kind of shape and to force myself to train the way that I had to train and to fight a lot of people.”

Turning to the audience, she made one recommendation: “It’s really good for you. It’s really good for the soul. You should definitely find a way to get aggression out.”

Garner was the last speaker of the day at Founders Fair, and in naturally elegant Garner fashion, she tied a bow on the entire event. “My main, favorite goal, and I know this is a goal that’s shared with the amazing team I work with, is to have the first organic W.I.C. option for babies. . . . Otherwise, as they always say ‘cause it sounds cool to all of you people, ‘We want to disrupt a category. We’re gonna disrupt a category! We’re going to be an integral— I can’t even remember all the words, but we’re gonna go disrupt.

“I don’t know what in the world they’re talking about. I grin and smile, but I’m learning. And that is part of the fun and joy of being part of starting a business, that my brain gets turned on in a whole new way, and I was hungry for that.”


Jennifer Garner Wants to Feed Your Kids the “Best Nourishment” With Once Upon a Farm

Jennifer is one of the co-founders of a new company called Once Upon a Farm. E!Online did an article to help you learn more about the company and their purpose.

Attention parents: Jennifer Garner may just be behind your kids’ next favorite food.

The Hollywood actress and former Annie’s president John Foraker have joined Cassandra Curtis and Ari Raz to announce the expansion of Once Upon a Farm.

“As a mom of three and Save the Children artist ambassador, I am passionate about childhood nutrition and making sure we are leaving a healthier and happier planet for the next generation,” Jennifer said in a statement. “Once Upon a Farm helps parents keep their promise to deliver the best nourishment for their children’s bodies and souls.”

The organic family food company, which currently offers a line of cold-pressed organic baby foods and applesauce, already has plans to grow into new categories.

“I had been looking for a while to partner with an early-stage brand in the food space. And as a mom with three kids, I have three lunch boxes to pack each day and understand the problems that must be solved with serving fresh food to young children,” Jennifer shared with Living Maxwell. “My mother made every single meal for me, and I have always been a big believer in staying connected to the earth, which grows our food.”

She continued, “In my work with Save the Children, where I have been an ambassador for the last five years, I have visited a ton of families in rural America, and kids just do not have access to fresh organic food. Even though I have advocated for this issue in the government at both a state and national level, I understand that business drives change and wanted to find a company that could get nutritious food out to kids.”
Going forward, Jennifer says she will be involved with the company on a daily basis and will be part of sales calls, design and “making sure the world knows we exist.”

As for curious kids and parents wanting to try the products, you’re in luck.

Once Upon a Farm is available online through the company’s website and national grocery stores including select Wegmans, Kroger and Whole Foods Market stores.