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Rossmore, NSW, AU
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Family Sustainability

Family Sustainability

Rossmore, AU

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Teaching the next generation

Project: Family Sustainability

Posted by Fiona Plsek over 8 years ago

How to inspire children in a Forest Garden

When embarking on this project, I had grand ideas about what to achieve without a real understanding of the amount of work required. Sure I had dug garden beds, thought I understood planting guilds, knew the importance of companion planting ... but nothing prepared me for introducing children to my garden.

Wow ... the wonder of gardens from a childs' persprective showed me just how much there is still to learn!

Let's take for example "good" bugs and "bad" bugs. Digging around in the garden, you come across many creepy crawlies. How do you teach a toddler what they can touch and feel while allowing them to explore? Simple ... send them on treasure hunts!

How does that help ... ? you ask. Well, find lots of jars and put them in a basket or bucket and take it with you into the garden. Ask your little monkey what they want to hunt ... spiders, beetles, caterpillars, things with wings, things with lots of legs, etc (you get the idea). The only rule ... you must be prepared to catch the critters they find, they aren't allowed to touch them.

Once you have collected your "treasure" ... you can take photos of them (for rainy day discussions), describe what they do in the garden, how they feed, whether they can touch it, etc.

Voila! The little monkeys can become your secret weapon ... 28 spot lady beetle, cockchafer, cabbage moth caterpillar and stink bug eradication becomes a game. Converslely, all "helpful" bugs become heros. For example; lacewings have become "fairies", dragonflies are "dragons" (obviously!) and bees are "princesses" (due to their gold colour). My little monkeys have learned how to create "bug homes" and have learned to identify a range of garden guests. And every now and again, they come up with surprising insights ... "look Mum

But what does all this have to do with permaculture principles? Without teaching the next generation how to interact with the world around them, and actively learning to understand the relationships between living things ... how do we expect them to read the environment around them? View the world as a living entity? 

There are some amazing activities that you can do with your children ... usually only limited by their imagination. Our mandela garden has become a maze. Mushrooms are identified as being "yummy" or "yucky" and either picked or stomped (depending on edibility). Fruiting trees become fortresses. And of course ... nothing is more energetic than a child with their own spade ... just ensure they know what the no dig zone is!

As for our journey into self-sufficency, we can now say we are self-sufficient in all vegetables, 40% of our fruit and all of our chicken needs (egg and meat). Getting there ... just slower than I originally planned.

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