It’s funny how contagious gardening is. We have often met passers-by stopping to ask about a fruit tree in our yard or a native plant on the verge and how they can establish it in their own garden. It seems we humans can much more easily give something a go when we’ve seen someone else doing it close by, than just from hearing or reading about it.
My little one is usually none too keen to be dropped off at child care when I head off to my day job. However, he likes to see himself as a fully fledged farmer. So when I recently responded to a request for plant donations as a child care fundraiser, he jumped on board. He was dead keen to deliver those lettuces and tomatoes and see them growing in the centre’s front garden. I have tempted him back in the weeks since with the promise of mulching and watering the newly-established plants there. It has worked a treat. On the way there last week, he announced to me, “Mummy, I’m not going to cry when you leave me today,” and sure enough he didn’t … and hasn’t since!
Not only that, but his carers have picked up on this gardening enthusiasm and have decided to have a go at establishing a little garden with their group of toddlers. Tomorrow we’ll deliver a stack of pots, seeds and mulch (they are supplying potting mix) and some basic planting information to help them get started. I am really excited at the prospect of more children learning at such a young age that they CAN make plants grow – and that some of these plants make food that they CAN eat! What a spectacular way to discover a sense of agency early in life, not to mention learning about nature and ecosystems in a practical way. This little patch of garden, on the warm western side of the centre, can potentially achieve many ends at once:
- providing engaging activities for small groups of children
- developing fine motor and observation skills
- developing the ability to take care of something living
- giving the children a sense of ownership as they change the feel of their own surroundings
- cooling the western side of the yard in summer by growing climbing beans and cucumbers up the fence
- softening and beautifying one of the most neglected parts of the centre
- beautifying the boundary that links the childcare centre with the school
- enabling little ones to learn what real organic food tastes like and where it comes from – and how they could grow it at home!
- demonstrating the wonderful power of nature to take our little bit of effort and multiply it many times over!