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As I’ve said before, anything that encourages children to grow things is invaluable in helping raise a new generation of gardeners.
Maybe that should be two generations, as most under-50s weren’t taught gardening basics as youngsters. Part of that has been the shift from growing many of our own vegetables and fruit to the convenience of supermarket shopping, while smaller sections have meant fewer opportunities to put aside a kids’ patch. It’s only now that we are learning just how productive tiny gardens can be.
At the same time, the demise of the likes of the Ellerslie International Flower Show took out the opportunity to learn from other gardeners’ bright ideas and the cancellation of garden club shows and events because of Covid-19 has exacerbated the problem.
Nonetheless, school gardens, overseen by experienced gardeners, are doing a great job. I recently met a Christchurch teacher who was taking her dad’s old bath from Dunedin to grow raspberries at her school. She was concentrating on autumn-fruiting ones for, as she pointed out, most raspberries are ready during the summer holidays.
Of course, many people still enjoy home-grown vegetables — and more folk are getting into the garden — but there are a disturbing number of people going without fresh vegetables.
Seed company Yates is doing its bit by promoting National Gardening Week, which runs from October 18 to 25.
The idea is not new: for at least a decade, Catholic schools have given some of the produce the children grow to St Vincent de Paul for food parcels. This is the first time, though, that there has been a national campaign to help in this way.
A Yates spokesman said "it does not require much effort, but could mean so much for another family in need".
The company is offering giveaways of seed hampers and growers get a bonus, too. Register online at www.yates.co.nz/national-gardening-week/this-year/2021/ before October 25 to receive a free packet of vegetable seeds, which will be sent out when Auckland gets to Covid-19 Alert Level 2.
Teamairo Moeroa (7) happily donned gloves and was set to sow pea and pumpkin seeds. After putting on his gumboots, her brother Latu Moeroa-Eilsara (2) wasn’t as keen to get digging, but Hezekiah (1) showed promise, looking likely to be among the new generation of gardeners in a couple of years.
"National Gardening Week aims to foster a love of gardening with a focus on growing not only plants but friendships, good health, strong communities and closer connections with nature," Yates said.
"Whether it’s a few pots on the balcony, a small patch or an extensive garden, everyone can experience the joy of gardening."