Second in our series of guest posts is from Sam at Happy Homebird and is all about allotments, and getting children involved.
“After a long wait, we finally got our allotment when our son, Little Bird, was a baby – he’s 5 now. We were presented with an overgrown patch, full of weeds but were lucky enough to have rows of raspberry canes along one edge. In those early days we would simply park the pushchair up and weed whilst he slept.
Then the next years became a little tricky as Little Bird who has autism did not like the allotment at all and was always running off and crying. We spent more time chasing and cajoling him than tending to the plot. Plus, LB was just not interested at all in ‘helping’. We did everything we could from him having his own little gardening set, encouraging him to dig in the soil, plant seeds…… nothing worked. In the last 12 months, LB is slowly become more at ease spending time at the allotment, running around and generally being happy. What we did do was to start having day trips to fun gardens and events, especially those with a large emphasis on children and creative gardening. Here are the pick of my favourite events to look out for inspiration for and to encourage children in a love of horticulture:
Urban City Gardening events:
In Manchester there is Dig the City, a festival of urban gardening encouraging people to garden, no matter the size of garden even if you just have a window box to tend to. There are balloon flowers towering overhead, show gardens, entertainment, quirky displays and yummy food. We have been twice now and it was a wonderful day for us all and LB enjoyed himself running around the natural style playgrounds and laughing at some of the creative displays like a plant swamp monster. This year it looks like there is even more to entertain such as crazy golf and many interactive displays and activities.
Open Days at allotments:
Many allotments host open days for the general public to come along and have a nosy. My father’s allotment and one of our local ones do an excellent job of showing just how fabulous allotments are and the fun, especially for children that can be had. Decorated artistic plots gave me an idea of LB having some creative input into our allotment – maybe we could design a plot sign or paint the side of our wooden composting area with pretty colours. The open days had lots of input from local schools who made scarecrows and we were treated to free vegetables from a friendly plot owner and some BBQ food at my dad’s allotment family get together. LB thought it was very funny that the allotment had names on the sections, such as Pumpkin Place and Beetroot Boulevard. Lots of ideas can be gained from these open days and we all love a nosy around at other plots, I know I do.
Open gardens and country estate gardens
We love visiting National Trust gardens as throughout the year they have such interesting events like their scarecrow festivals and of course the great Easter egg hunts which we love. Super ways to get out and incorporate gardens and fun. We love looking around kitchen gardens and at our local estate there is often a treasure hunt, so we are learning as well as running around and having a laugh. The more we have frequented these types of events, my son has become rather fond of exploring them and less stressed. In Cheshire we have a huge variety of gardens that we like to visit and we could find an activity nearly every weekend whether it’s a sensory garden with a squelchy bare foot walk at Trentham garden or looking for fairy sculptures.
Look for local community gardens where you can get involved. These hidden away small urban spaces have so many activities and are great for children to make new friends and learn some hands on skills. A great cheap day spent on the school holidays or for homeschoolers like me, a place to arrange meet ups. So much new knowledge can be gained – beekeeping, pond dipping and small mammal conservation. A great mix of gardens and wildlife combined. My fantastic community gardens cook lunch outdoors from their home grown produce and host events such as The Big Lunch every year with live music and cake. What could be better than that!
These of course are just a few ideas, there are plenty more and for fun next month we are going to partake in a bit of guerrilla gardening and armed with our homemade seed bombs hope to pretty up some local patches. My son will love this and hopefully we will see our wildflowers bloom over the summer.
To catch up with Sam and her family’s adventures, check out their blog and Twitter feed.