This workshop summary was written by Andrea Roach, session’s host and co-organiser. Follow Andrea and Isobel at www.yellowwelliesgarden.com, on FB and Instagram #yellowwelliesgarden.
Gardening groups in Fife and Dundee – People Learning about Nature in Tayport (PLANT), Ninewells Community Garden, Edible Campus and Strathkinness Community Garden – have come together in a series of online workshops to share our love and knowledge about growing food. Last week I hosted the workshop on gardening with children and we publish the recording from the session just in time for National Children’s Gardening Week. You can watch it on PLANT YouTube channel here.
Now in our 8th week of lockdown, I have used this time well. I have been playing and teaching my two-year old daughter about growing food at home – and it is my pleasure to share my trials and tribulations with others. Since 2012, I have been working with children of all ages in outdoor settings at schools, nurseries, community gardens and at the St Andrews Botanic Garden, using gardening as a fun, learning experience.
No matter what your experience is, if you want to grow more food while in lockdown and you have young children you will, without a doubt, have to incorporate the two. This makes everything more interesting as you experience their discoveries and joys of nature alongside them.
Luckily, there are so many more benefits to gardening making it a very worthwhile activity for the whole family: fresh food, fresh air, it is calming and therapeutic. It’s a lot of fun! You can feel accomplished and, as an added bonus, there is bacteria in the soil that boosts your happy hormones.
I wanted to highlight the educational benefits to gardening. This is not just about biology and plant science but much more. As seen in the photo in Children’s Gardening: A Month by Month Guide Advancing Educational Gardening Activities in Schools by Peter A. Please, the topics that can be covered in your garden project are plenty. Explore even farther afield in nature and your curriculum is there, all around you, ready to be explored.
Gardening is a great way to use a lot of numbers and counting – for older children this can be extended to measuring, sums and multiplication by using the Square Foot Gardening method. Why not chart daily growth of beans or sunflowers or do a scaled drawing?
Isobel is learning her letters with plant labels and vegetable names. We touch on our health and health of plants and soils, environment issues such as waste and pollution.
You cannot learn about plant life without learning about wildlife. Worms and other little critters fascinate Isobel, like any child. She asks many questions, observes and makes predictions. She is proud if she gets to hold a ladybug without crying.
We get creative with upcycling, collecting flowers, pressing them and making crafts.
We nurture the soil, the plants and ourselves. Learning to prepare foods like salad dressings and egg sandwiches with cress.
We dig, lift and bend.
We make mistakes and learn; and we try new things. Things go wrong sometimes, we both lose our patience often. We take pride in our work and feel positive. We reflect.
Gardening as a family is nothing new at all. It has been happening for centuries by many millions of people around the world. We know that during wartime growing your own food was essential work on the home front for women and children who tended to a plot of land meant to sustain a large family throughout the year – for many years. ‘Dig for Victory’ was a national effort and it was important work as food supplies were limited and imports came to a halt. Children for instance also increased their food growing at schools and the October Holidays or ‘Tattie Holidays’ was a time off school when children had to help out with the autumn potato harvest.
Today, our supply chains are getting by, this is not wartime of course – but it is time to rethink the delicate nature of our food and eco systems. If you have the time and space, there is no better time than now to enjoy your garden, re-educate yourself and your families about food and introducing the joys of gardening to even the youngest.
Our next workshop will be on , with Peter, PLANT Community Gardener. You can RSVP now through Eventbrite.
You can watch recordings from all of the online lockdown workshop series here.