This is the first photograph readers have seen of my beautiful daughter, aged three and a half. After a long discussion with fellow Green Parent readers I've been inspired to come out and share something of my parenting philosophy with the world. Forgive me for being a bit slow on the uptake here, folks, but I've suddenly realised that being VISIBLE as a green parent, may help others who are trying to do things differently too.
As far as child development is concerned, we know that pretty much all the important stuff happens between birth and the age of three. You don't need expensive complicated toys to keep little ones amused.
In this photo my daughter is playing with a coir compost brick which I put into a bucket of water. She was fascinated by the process of watching the brick expand into compost and this provided no less than THREE HOURS of entertainment on one particularly wet day, when we were both confined indoors. But then daughter has been filling pots with compost and putting seeds in them since the age of one and a half.
If you analyse all this in terms of motor skills and sensory development - there's probably the meat and two veg there for quite a few 'Early Learning' educational assignments...
Readers will know that we don't have a garden. I'm sure lots of other families are in this situation. We're lucky enough to have an allotment - and I know these are difficult to come by right now. As you may remember, I started converting our plot from derelict soon after having my daughter. It was really hard work and I believe EVERYONE, including families with small children ought to be given a lot more support when they take on a plot, in terms of access to information, networks, tools, childcare even. I've seen many people give up because they find it too difficult.
As parents we're constantly told to keep our children away from junk food, get them to exercise more and give them creative possiblities. Providing growing spaces is a way of doing all these things. My daughter's attitude to food has been shaped by a very practical relationship to the origins of food - and the progress of our veg patch. We've already spent so many happy days together on our plot - putting down roots with other plot holders (small and large) in our community.
I was outraged yesterday when a taxi driver told me he had tried to get an allotment and his local council had sold off the site. The council hadn't maintained the plots - and had allowed them to become so derelict that they had become really difficult to cultivate. Of course no-one wanted to take them up then, and the council had the perfect excuse to sell off the land. This shouldn't be allowed to happen.
I'm adding my voice to the many others calling for a huge increase in the land that is available for people to grow fruit and vegetables. We're all in for a tough time in the recession and I honestly believe a growing space can make a big difference to communities. It's good for people's mental health and helps them link up with each other. Governments and councils can achieve this food vision if they want to. Like everything else it is a matter of political will. We need more growing spaces, simple as that. Check out the Landshare scheme. It's a 'place linking people who want to grow their own fruit & veg to space where they can grow it'. Let me know how you're getting on with it via the comments box.
Okay, I'm getting off my soap box now to get on with watering my seedlings...