Alice Whitehead is a third generation allotmenteer that likes to grow, eat and get muddy – then write about it! With two urban allotment plots, an award-winning school garden club and an enthusiastic eight year old son to help. Alice catches up with GardenTags to discuss the importance of getting children into the garden…
Gardening For Children
Nurturing the Seeds of Success
by Alice Whitehead
It was when my son began devouring vegetable purees and took his first steps towards weaning that he also got his first taste of allotment life.
My husband and I built him a little garden of his own on my allotment plot, enclosed with picket fencing constructed from old pallets. There was a sand pit buried into the ground, a compost heap, buckets and spades, and a small rectangular raised bed – and it was here that the seeds of gardening interest grew.
While the raised bed was nothing more than a digging pit and a place to ‘get messy’ at first, over the course of his eight years my son’s veg beds have begun to spread into his play area, and now there’s more cultivation than capers. He’s grown carrots and salads, potatoes and tomatoes and even entered his home grown efforts into the school pumpkin competition.
It was my son’s thrill at growing his own – and my experience gardening as a child with my dad – that led me to want to share my skills with other children, and in 2014 I signed up to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.
They put me in touch with someone at my son’s school, and after a few meetings (and more than two months digging vegetable beds out of a lawned area in the playground!) they asked me and another keen volunteer to head up a garden club at the school, which we named the Delapre Diggers.
SEE ALSO: Kids Gardening – Indoor Fairy Gardens
As a third generation allotmenteer and professional garden writer, I hoped I might be able to pass on a few horticultural nuggets that could help the pupils, many of whom had no access to a garden, let alone an allotment.
In 2016, the garden club was honoured to receive a Gold Award in Northampton in Bloom, Best School Garden In Northamptonshire and a Silver-Gilt in the East Midlands in Bloom. However, the biggest reward has always remained the impact the garden club has had on the children.
Gardening opens up a whole world of possibilities for children. While nothing can replicate the look of pure joy on a child’s face when they taste their first pea from the pod or unearth a potato they’ve grown themselves from seed, growing fruit and vegetables can teach them skills in nature, science and numeracy; encourage creativity; a healthier attitude towards food and improve physical and mental well being. It can also build patience and self-esteem and teach them to love their planet and develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for it.
In my new series of Garden Tag blogs, I’d like to share some easy, seasonal projects and garden tasks that have been a success with my own son, and the Delapre Diggers.
Many of them are simply about getting children out into the fresh air – but if they fall in love with gardening along the way, then it could just become a healthy hobby they take with them through the rest of their lives.
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Here’s the official disclaimer bit… The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of GardenTags. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this guest blog post are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.
*You can find more of Alice’s amazing blogs at her website, Wonderland Freelance.