One of my best mates is the kitchen garden coordinator at the school our kids go to. She is a super inspiring gal.
Her job is funded for 6 hours, but she puts in many, many more. She liases with teachers and the P&F, drives for miles with a huge trailer, gorgeous toddler in tow, to find compost, manure, pizza oven bricks and more, then lugs what she's found around the school, organises other parents to help, sorts out how the program she wants to run fits with class teachers and the curriculum, and does millions of other things. And the garden is looking great! Following the tenures of two other passionate gardening mothers, our school grounds are getting soft edges. Kindy kids are leaving class with bunches of parsley sticking out of their bags, there are old boots hanging on strings outside one class with daffodils growing out of them, a scarecrow with soil and seeds in her pockets that my girls check for signs of life as they pass. Children have ownership of the grounds as they watch things that they have planted grow.
My friend has done wonders, and somehow fits it all into an already rich and full life.
She astounds me.
Today she came and rescued some plants from my reject pile and while we sorted plants and her beautiful little one played in the propagating sand and snoozed in the potting bark, we chatted about plants that kids enjoy in the garden.
My girls have access to a huge variety of plants, and watching how they interact with them is exciting.
The sweet tooth is always nicking carrots, wiping the soil on her jeans, then eating them, still dirty, on the spot. She steals strawberries from potted plants I've protected from birds and nurtured for my market stall minutes before I pack them. Cheeky. She eats purple broccoli from the school garden every day and loves to leave offerings for the fairies, picking mint, pineapple sage and other fragrant leaves and tiny flowers. She arranges them like a dinner party on the dining suite from her dolls house, hoping the fairies will come in the night and leave her tiny letters.
The other one is interesting to watch. She searches through the garden for food like a little finch scavenging seed. She makes recipes in the kinder veggie patch, rolling parsley inside cavalo nero (her favourite kale) leaves to make little snacks. She seeks out intense flavours, unripe blueberries, over-ripe alpine strawberries, anise hyssop flowers and chickweed.
|Working hard sowing borage.|
This is real food security. Teaching kids to grow and cook for themselves, and sharing with them the true value of food, and the rich experiences that can be had when you spend time in the garden.
Literacy, numeracy, botany, chemistry, entomology, nutrition, economics (I'm happy to pay for slug collection or weed pulling) sustainability, self discipline and probably dozens of other things are learnt in an incidental and practical way. This same interaction with food gardening doesn't need a plot as big as ours. It can happen with a box of potatoes grown on a patio, herbs on a windowsill or, if you're lucky like our kids, and many others in Tasmania, at school.
|Growing, gathering and marketing her own King Edward spuds.|
|Teddy saving seeds.|
|Rhubarb, angelica and tomatoes for market. |
Feathers for kinder craft.
|Helping gather for market.|
|Feeding the pigs and chickens with a playmate.|
Potted strawberries on the Christmas lunch table.
|Gardening can be anything, but most of all it's fun!|
Here the little one is modeling her hero,
George the veggie man from Margate.