Let me tell you a little story. It’s about a regular family. The dad is a great young man. He calls himself ‘a devoted dad and a hard-working husband’. At times he feels stressed and anxious with life and wonders when he’ll ever feel calm and satisfied. He’s a Gen Y adult who has had a pretty normal life. Both his parents worked pretty hard when he was growing up, and he just didn’t get to do much with them. His fun was computer games with the guys from school. He never spent much time outside, he didn’t connect with the natural world because he reckoned there was nothing to see or do out there.
His little girl Lucy Rae has started school. She’s a cute little thing and very bright. Her mum drops her off on the way to work, dad collects her in the afternoons. Lucy Rae takes after her dad. She’s a bit uptight and is the family worrier, even at her tender age. She loves that she has computer time at school, and enjoys stories and games. She hates getting wet or dirty, is scared of anything that crawls, and won’t eat anything red, green or yellow. She’s typical of many children I interact with.
What’s the problem here? I see it all the time. I observe children and their parents who have what is now coined Nature Deficit Syndrome. They are unused to the natural world and the calming impacts it has – just by being out there in it; by interacting with the natural world.
When I work with schools, the children I teach have typically never before dug in a garden with mum or dad, have never pulled up a carrot or picked a bean and eaten it in the garden. They don’t know the joys of feeling mud between the toes, the warmth of the earth in summer or the sprouting of a pea that was hand-sown in a little garden. Why? Because generations of people now have gone without the experience of gardening. The knowledge has been lost or forgotten.Pulling the carrot, feeling the mud and warm earth and wondering at natural growth all contribute to an understanding of the natural world. They grow an appreciation of science and the inter-relatedness of people and plants. Most of all, these ‘outdoorsy things’ in a garden, no matter how big or small, can bring about a wonderful sense of calm, joy and fulfilment for both children and adults.
The simple task of digging a garden bed is an active, meditative practice that allows a whole lot of lateral thinking to take place in the brain. I observe in children, how the act of digging resolves hyperactive behaviours, anger and frustration. Perhaps it’s the earth connection and physical activity, combined with the rhythm and the tiny Mycobacterium vaccae that trigger serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter and mood balancer), that make a difference?
Why wait another day, month or year? Why not start a garden now? Make it work for you and your family. Learn about the intricacies of planning a patch, the absolute joy of eating fresh peas from the pod, and experience the utter satisfaction of pulling up carrots. I can tell you it’s the most sought after thing new vegie gardeners want!
When you know these simple joys, your children will learn from you. But they will learn more than how to garden. They will learn ways to destress, to feed themselves and to feel good about themselves and what they can achieve. From a little seed planted now, big things will grow.
Now I know I can say it’s all easy peasy, because I’ve been doing this stuff all my life. But, the truth is, it can be disappointing and challenging when you first start. Get yourself some good local knowledge. Join an organic growing club and borrow some books from the library. Only thing is, they need to be written by locals or it won’t make sense for your garden.
May I also suggest that if you have read books and still can’t get it, that I’m here to help you.
I care about you, and how you can create your own successes.
I’d love to help you and your family enjoy an earthy, productive, healthy and connected life. And, wouldn’t you feel great about having something you have grown, on your plate, every day?
You will make a big difference in your own life, but an even greater impact upon a young person’s world, if you teach them about connecting back with the earth and the simple pleasures of gardening and growing food.
Why not join one of the organic gardening classes here at Ecobotanica? There’s one to suit you coming up very soon. Click on the classes tab and get started.