Ten years ago I had another allotment. It was just myself and my husband then and until life got busier and we had to give it up (jobs, dog and then children) we spent many hours down there clearing, sowing and weeding. When I was at the allotment with my daughter this week I was reflecting on how different the experience is now that I have a family. Obviously, I have less time now, sharing the plot with friends has really helped to keep the pressure off and I do cut corners when I can. I’m determined that the allotment should always be a pleasure rather than a chore and if that means not doing the weeding then that’s fine by me. We also have a bigger garden now so I plant anything that needs regular attention at home and accept that I might only visit the allotment twice a week. I’m sure that I’ve had failures because of that approach but overall, so far, I haven’t felt stressed by the demands of the plot and I’ve really enjoyed the experience.
When I started writing this blog I said that I wanted to involve the children, to teach them where food comes from, and to hopefully inspire in them a love of growing. I didn’t decide on a particular way to do this and have let them get involved as little or as much, as they want. Regular readers will know that my daughter (6yrs old) convinced me to turn over a whole bed to her and she has loved having that space all to herself, she encourages me to go there on rainy days and to see her proud of the produce that she grows is just fantastic. My son is only three and he’s less keen at the moment but I’m hopeful that he’ll come to love it too.
This week I realised how I’ve changed in my attitude to growing and I’ve worked out what my approach is to involve the children in the allotment. And it is really simple, I’ve just learnt to say yes to them. So, if my daughter wants to go and check on her plants I’ll always try to take her. If they want to plant pea seeds in autumn, I’ll let them – I know they probably won't be successful but I’ve realised that it’s often the process that they like best so it doesn’t really matter. This week they wanted to pick some carrots, they’re not ready yet and the old me would have encouraged them to wait a bit longer but now I enjoy their enthusiasm and encourage them. They can pick, plant or taste anything they want (within reason, I’ll draw the line at worms!)
Having the children involved has made me realise that, for me, having an allotment is about enjoying being there every day whether you’re working hard or having a cuppa and watching seedlings grow. While I love to pick the produce I’m now much less focussed on the end result and appreciate more the overall experience for me and my children.
More about Lucy...
Lucy is part of the fantastic Heritage Seed Library team, working hard to grow and preserve seed varieties that are no longer available so that our members can enjoy growing them at home. Raising two young children, Lucy is keen to grow an array of fruit and vegetables to become more sustainable and to encourage her children to get involved in growing.
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