Perhaps strangely for a television personality, gardening guru Dan Mackay thinks one of the advantages of teaching your children about gardening is getting them away from the “stinking TV” and other electronic devices.
A presenter for TVNZ’s HOMEmade, Dan spends much of his spare time in his own garden with children Flynn, 11, Rocco, 5, River, 4, Sailor Grace, 2, and Wolf, 7 months.
His children don’t need much persuading to be there.
“Kids love getting dirty, and they love to play in the mud,” Dan says.
When it comes to his youngest children, Dan loves to see the thrill on their faces when they begin to appreciate some of the wonders of the natural world, which adults have, perhaps, long since taken for granted.
For example, River and Sailor Grace could not quite see the point of digging holes to put oddly-shaped brown bulbs into the ground.
“But the daffodils have come up now, and it blew their minds to see that they came up exactly where we put the bulbs,” Dan says.
Dan also thinks getting children involved in gardening is a great way for them to learn, and makes the point that some children learn better by doing rather than by having concepts explained to them.
“When they are gardening, children are learning things like volumes and quantities and spacing and maths and science at the same time. It’s getting their brain going, and they don’t even realise it,” he says.
Dan’s passion for getting children into the garden has led him to become one of the judges for the Garden to Table Awards for 2018, which promotes gardening in schools.
He says when judging, he looks for enthusiasm more than technical knowledge – particularly children who spend every lunchtime doing a little extra in the school garden.
“If you have enthusiasm you will have success. They go hand in hand,” he says.