Kids Connecting With Nature
‘To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves’. ~Mahatma Gandhi
In today’s world we seem to be programming our kids to a world of structure and routine and to a phrenetic paced lifestyle. Down time almost seems taboo, allowing our kids time to roam is a thing of the past. Whilst I’m a believer in routine I’m also a believer in allowing children the time to be “free range”, that is, a connection to a life free of programming. A time where children have an opportunity to connect or re-connect with nature and to engage full use of their senses. To experience this, there is no better place than in a garden.
A more alarming reason to encourage our kids back into the garden is that Australia is ranked one of the most overweight developed nations and our obesity rates in the past 20 years have doubled. It astounds me that we live in one of the most un-populated countries, our climate so enticing, our food supplies for the most part are plentiful and the quality of produce outstanding. Yet we have that statistic hanging over our head. Has our fast paced, programmed lifestyle allowed us to let go of some fundamental basics. Do we rely too heavily on foods of convenience, fast foods, pre-prepared meals? How many times a week would you hear people say they are too busy to cook, how many mums actually make the food for their children’s lunch boxes? Nutrition Australia claims the attitudes towards food is shaped during the early childhood years. They maintain the best way to encourage children and steer them into healthy eating is to educate them.
The value of food education is endless. It teaches children the ability to make their own good choices. Enhance their sustainable learning outcomes and humane food practices. How they can contribute to a more sustainable future for their generation and the generations to come. It promotes physical activity.
Kitchen garden programs in schools are on the rise. These programs successfully integrate outdoor gardens to enhance classroom learning, food education and basic life skills. More schools are seeing the long term benefits of garden education.
There is nothing more rewarding to me, than teaching children the benefits of a kitchen garden. Each Friday I watch our garden club community laugh, nurture and persist with our kitchen garden.
I watch the joy it brings the children and teachers as we come together working to provide the school community with their own produce. So much love and attention has gone into the creation of the garden. Through the garden and its requirements we are creating a sense of community and ownership, giving children a time for togetherness, a time for forgetting our fast paced lives and engaging all our senses in that moment.
Teaching them to take their own food from garden to plate is such a privilege. Each week I take a new group of enthusiastic gardeners and each week the outcome is the same. We work together as a team, problem solving, getting out hands dirty, caring for our plants, harvesting or re planting. All of us young and old with same objective, to grow our own food and become more self-sufficient.
St Margaret’s School program’s purpose is to integrate an organic garden into the primary curriculum. Working alongside the schools Sustainability Committee, the program’s goal is to enhance sustainable learning outcomes for their students. The Maggie’s Garden Project has four main objectives, environment, health, social and food. To further support our garden we have included a worm farm, water tank and composting bins. All of these have been included into our weekly garden club education.
August 24 2015
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Australian Govt, Dept of Health