‘They get involved at every stage - sowing seeds at home, digging, weeding, planting, shed painting, pond dredging and re-lining, helping with building raised beds, but their favourite activities are watering and harvesting. Generally they bring home more in their tummies than in their hands! Last year was challenging as they were constantly hungry and needed the toilet the instant we got to the plot. Getting access to a shed made a big difference as we store a camping toilet and some tools in it so we have less to carry to the plot each time, allowing us to bring a picnic and stay for longer.
As well as growing things, we have our pond. We have a couple of frogs in residence, and are hoping to see other wildlife this year. The kids love to play at the allotment, building “ant homes” and riding up and down on a toy tractor. We also love looking out for the neighbourhood fox, and hopefully one day we’ll see the badgers who are notorious sweetcorn thieves.
It benefits us as a family in so many ways. Time in the fresh air is always of use to the kids, who need a run around outside if they’re to get a good night’s sleep. The boys love fresh vegetables and it’s a pleasure to see them chomping their way through a patch of peas, tasting flavours that just don’t occur when produce is stored in a shop. It’s cheaper than the gym too – it’s amazing how a couple of hours of gardening flies by with at least the same health benefits as chugging away on an exercise bike. We get to eat things we haven’t seen in the shops like my much loved chioggia beetroot and the radish pods. We try new things - I’d never pickled an onion or made chutney before having the allotment. The kids learn that sometimes things don’t work, slugs demolish, pigeons devour, wind damages, but that’s OK, we are resilient and we just try something else. It’s giving the kids the self esteem that comes from working as a team with other allotmenteers on shared tasks such as trimming hedges and laying paths. It’s time spent together.’
This article was first published in The Green Parent Issue 71. To read content from all our back issues subscribe to our digital editions and get full access to our archive.