Perhaps in our busy lives with the proliferation of fast-food outlets we forget the power of food.
I cook and that doesn’t seem like a talent that will change the world. But I grew up in a family where my mother cooked. There were carrots and beetroot to pull from the soil, fresh peas and beans, cucumbers and tomatoes to gather, leeks and potatoes, rambling squashes and trailing courgettes. An orchard provided apples, pears and plums as well as a great place to watch birds stealing the strawberries and foraging insects.
When we were hungry the garden was more important than money in the bank.
I learned to cook standing at the stove mixing, stirring and tasting as well as preparing food and watching people eat. Food – such an easy thing to give. Visitors never went hungry when they came to visit; a cookie tin was always handy with simple Dad’s cookies.
Sharing food was fundamental while I was growing up, feeding people was a great gift – family, friends, and strangers, nobody went hungry.
We ate fresh food in season, while our bodies grew strong without the damaging chemicals in processed food. Strong bonds were woven with the common experience of chopping and simmering, baking and whipping. We became healthy happy environmentally knowing children, while we shared the work of planting, gathering and learning.
Raising children is like organic gardening – if you want a superior product, you must monitor the inputs. But organic gardening is not enough. You must begin with organic thinking, because much of our environmental crisis is ingrained in our habits.
Now with the help of volunteers I share the gift with children through the Garden to Table programme, teaching kids the knowledge and skills that have a lifelong impact on their wellbeing and on the world around them.
If you would like to support primary and intermediate schools and kura to take learning out of the classroom and into the garden and the kitchen, find out if your local school has a programme.
Children’s success and growing knowledge relies on volunteers to help in both the kitchen and the garden, so gather up your volunteering gloves, put on your volunteering apron and get in touch with your local school.