Gardening can be a great social event
Soon, all children will be given the gift of green fingers. From next year “cultivating plants for practical purposes” becomes part of the curriculum, and already kitchen gardens are cropping up in primary schools across the land.
Learning how to grow plants teaches children a bountiful basket of skills, such as patience, teamwork and responsibility. Research commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society found it also enhances scientific understanding, numeracy and language skills - plus it encourages young children to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Children will try everything they’ve grown themselves,” says Cheryl De Benedictus, of the Victor Seymour Infants’ School in Surrey, where children have a thriving kitchen garden. “Everything tastes better when it comes straight from the ground or from the tree,” says Mrs De Benedictus. “Children say ‘Yuck, I don’t like peas’, then they taste them fresh from the pod and their eyes light up.”
The Victor Seymour project started with children growing potatoes for a science lesson, and has blossomed so much that children now take produce home for tea. There’s also a family gardening club catering for toddlers, parents and grandparents. “We use proper tools, so toddlers need supervision,” says Cheryl De Benedictus. “And it’s great to get grandparents involved because they have such a wealth of wisdom to pass on to the children.” Every gardening club ends with a yummy thing to eat, such as apples from the tree or a crunchy carrot.
You can find tips for setting up your own school garden and the RHS Campaign For School Gardening from the Royal Horticultural Society online.