My parents and grandparents had allotments which as a child I loved spending time on. Planting, growing, picking, eating, and watching the allotment bursting with wildlife. I was hooked. I was given my own patch, on which I grew many different flowers and veg. As an adult, I can now see how much this encouraged me to eat fresh fruit and veg. As many parents will know it can be a struggle to get your children to eat veg and fruit. I couldn’t wait to eat the cabbage or the runner beans I had proudly grown. Not only had I developed a love of veg, I knew where it came from and how to grow it. Many children today do not know the origin of their food. They go to the supermarkets and find their food in the isles, in jars or cans, or in the freezer section. A few generations ago, children gardened with parents or grandparents out of necessity to put food on the table. Unfortunately, this family activity rarely takes place today because the necessity may not exist. Many parents have little experience or knowledge about gardening or the family is too busy. Children have become disconnected from the land. Children need to learn and experience that soil is essential to all life. We also know that children instilled with a love of gardening at an early age grow into adults with a passion for plants and respect for the environment. On top of that, allotments provide opportunities for kids to sample fresh fruits and vegetables and learn about food origins.
Now 20 something years later I have my own allotment with my children aged 12 and 9 years. They both know where veg comes from, how good it is for them, how to grow it and how good it tastes. I was in a supermarket with my 9 yr old in the veg section. It was strange but nice to see him looking at veg for sale in disgust. “Mum look at these beans they are all manky and gone off, they cant sell these can they?” They were of course well within their sell by date, he is so used to seeing the veg we grow at the allotment, which obviously cant be compared with shop bought produce. The two just don’t compare!
Both the boys come with me to the allotment, only sometimes needing a little gentle persusaion. There is plenty to keep them occupied. They have both enjoyed helping out right from the start when all we had was a bare plot of clay and brambles. The eldest son was excellent at manure moving and shed building, the youngest really enjoyed smashing the huge boulders of clay we encountered. They have enjoyed planting seeds, watching them sprout and grow, then cooking them at home together. Watering, weeding, picking and black fly zapping keeps them busy on most visits. There are of course times when none of this interests them, so out comes a back up plan…… A packet of water bombs, these keep them entertained for hours. Or a disposable BBQ and a quick visit to the shop for burgers and rolls. They are well happy to sit and experiment with roasted veg from the plot. Another favorite of theirs (not of mine) is to play chase, running around the winding pathways through our plot. They are unfortunately the only children on our allotments, which is a shame as they have such a nice time.
It was those memories I have on my parents and grandads allotment that first made me want to have my own allotment. Im sure in the future both my boys will have an allotment, providing fresh home grown food for their own family.