“Save our planet by planting seeds with our children.” A brash statement perhaps? Let me explain myself.
At a recent parenting seminar I heard an inspiring talk by Robin Grille of Our Emotional Health, he said that you cannot teach a child ecology as an ideological intellectual concept, they have to feel it and experience it at the core of their being. I agree, whilst you can sit at a desk and learn about the principles of sustainability (i.e. Permaculture), you cannot be taught to LOVE your planet, to be in awe of its magnificence, to truly respect its ecosystem, this is something you have to feel in the depths of your soul.
In this article, I hope to inspire you by sharing the ways that we, as a family, embody this deep inter-connectedness with our planet but first I want to share a story from my wild past.
I once had the privilege of spending some weeks in total darkness in Asia, during this time the only pictures were in my thoughts as the accommodation I was in was blacked out and air-conditioned. One evening after 2 weeks, I came out, I was wearing a large blindfold (called a Mindfold) and asked someone to guide me to the vegetable garden and leave me alone. When I took off the blindfold I was struck by the beauty surrounding me, my senses were heightened, I took in everything, the stunning moonlight, the shapes of the leaves moving slowly in the breeze and the sounds of the insects. In the morning I got up to watch the sun rise over the rice fields, I shall never forget a thousand shades of green around me, my eyes were seeing colour so strongly, I stared at every flower as if it was the first time I had seen one. I could honestly not believe that I was so very blessed to live on this magnificent planet.
LIVE BY THE RHYTHM OF THE SEASONS
After the long winter, I feel like an unfurling fern, seduced to come out by the scent and intense colour of the bluebells.
During the long dark winter, I, like the plants, retreat and slow down. I use this time to journal and contemplate my intentions for the year, do research for my business and plan our garden and allotment. I offered my son gardening catalogues to peruse and he cut out pictures of what he wanted to plant. He took his pictures to Seedy Sunday, a local community seed swapping event, where he offered seeds we had saved in the autumn and gathered seeds to plant.
For me, the excitement of spring starts to build when I spot those early bulbs – the snowdrops, crocus and happy yellow daffodils. The first welcome sun rays, the freshness of the air, the bleating of the newborn lambs and the return of colour on the fast-growing landscape.
This is our cue to start planting in the garden, allotment and greenhouse. My most alive moments are when I have my hands in the soil with its unique smell and texture. Sometimes my son joins in the planting, other times he is making water fountains out of plant pots or finding newts in the pond or making dens for his snails.
It is on our days at the allotment, the farm, the woods, the beach that I feel most aligned with myself and the visions I hold clear during those winter months. To keep it real, I make enormous sacrifices homeschooling and running a business from home, during the winter I fall into doubt at the financial challenges these choices have brought, but come spring, we are basically living outdoors until late autumn.
Spring is a great time to start – plant a seed with your child, let them experience the true wonderment of watching that seed they planted magically appear through the soil a few weeks later as a delicate seedling, watch them responsibly nurture it with water (get them a watering can with a fine rose) and witness it grow into something they can harvest. Even better still, involve them in composting your kitchen waste and use the soil they made to grow their seeds in or save the seeds with them from that plants they grow and plant them again, so they can experience sustainability in action. Even if they do not join in they are watching and taking in the miracle of what is happening around them.
Here are some suggestions to get you started
- A tub of new potatoes are easy to grow and not susceptible to pests, you buy them, chit them (basically let them sprout), plant them (carefully not to damage the shoots) and earth them up (cover them with earth as they grow). Harvesting them is like a treasure hunt, its so much fun for the kids!
- I also love pumpkins for the sheer excitement of how enormous they can grow and that you can harvest them for Halloween and are also pretty hardy and pest resistant and can cope if you forget to water them on occasion.
- Sunflowers are fun for their height and happy smiling faces, they are susceptible to slugs and snails so plant more than you need and put plastic pots with copper tape around the bottoms or better still plant them in a tin bath or a pot with copper tape. I, being the fanatic that I am, go into the garden each morning and collect snails.
- Raspberries are great, hardy, they are pretty insect resistant and tend to look after themselves with the occasional pruning.
I am passionate about planting things that children can harvest themselves, like peas, broad beans, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes – it is wonderful to see a chid connected to where their food has come from.
VISION AND ACTION
Don’t be intimidated by gardening, you do not need green fingers or a big allotment, you can start small and learn from your mistakes.
To learn, I volunteered at a local vegetable garden, researched online for specific questions, perused gardening books at the library for inspiration and copied the wise older folks at the allotment and mostly made a lot of mistakes and killed a lot of plants. I want to share a story with you about visioning.
My first attempt to grow seeds was in a cheap plastic greenhouse, I carefully planted each seed, labelled them, watered them. A few days later the wind blew it over, seeds and compost all over the place, I was heartbroken. I longed for a greenhouse, I visioned the one here (literally I posted it on my Facebook page stating my intention). A few months later I noticed a beautiful vintage greenhouse near my home, with pretty coloured glass tiles, about the size of the one in this picture. I plucked up the courage one day to knock on the door of the house and asked the owners if they used their greenhouse, it turned out that they didn’t and they said they would be happy for me to make use of it. For the first year I lost a lot of plants, but 3 years on its brimming with life.
Vision your dreams, support it with action and they will manifest!
Please let me know if this inspires you and if you need any tips. I love to know what you think of these articles and who it reaches to please, do comment, it helps me to unfurl more.