HOMEGROWN. We are so lucky in the Ulua family here at Rush Farm that our parents have always grown-their-own. The Goodlife before the Goodlife was thought of, we have always been able to see the process of seed to table, and once we were big enough were able to help… then we got too big and didn’t want to help, but like everything in life, the cycle returns to the beginning and now we are growing for good with our children.
Connecting to nature through gardening encourages physical activity in ourselves, but crucially, also in our children, which helps them to connect to nature, as well as develop empathy, responsibility, and better self-esteem.
Fresh from the garden, healthy and full of vitality – our own grown vegetables and fruit are so very satisfying to make a part of our lives – and it really is much simpler than we fear! Knowing the source of your food, watching your children make the connection between their work in the soil and their food on their plate, giving them a chance to grow as they grow their garden – it is a very special achievement.
Active living is usually something that our alter ego’s like to do – work and parenthood are already two full times jobs after all! However, pottering between the plants in your garden, be it big or small, and reaching down to weed a little here and there, you soon realise you have been outside for half and hour and the world actually carried on fine without you. Pottering while your little one is alongside you, selecting your veggies for your supper that evening, taking a nibble here and a nibble there because little hands cannot wait for the food to be diced and cooked – it gives you both calm, stress free time together, and lowering your stress hormone cortisol is always good for you both.
Mental health is something we are all learning to talk about more and more about – mostly that it is ok to talk about how we are feeling… those invisible thoughts that wrap us up into knots that no one else can see. Being outside, breathing in the fresh air, surrounded by the soothing essence of nature – the bird song, the leaves rustling, the water feature babbling… this has been proven time and again to bring human beings, us, peace and healing. Hand in hand, our physical release of stress eases our mental stresses too.
Family time is just so precious, and while we are racing around pretending to be swans, our children are growing and changing, developing and imitating the us we hide, not just the us we show the world. Giving our children a chance to echo our time in the garden amongst our plants, teaching them about soil, dirt, mud pies, homegrown foods, seeds, pollinators – to be curious and joyful of the bounties of nature. Our children do not have to learn what we know, they live it beside us and discover through their own curiosity. Curiosity which we nurture by giving them time and space outdoors. Mini beasts watch out!
There is growing data to show that we must do a new thing for a month before it becomes a habit. These are all healthy habits and are worth giving our precious time to. We all have triggers, and we all have solutions to those triggers, but having a choice, giving ourselves an alternative solution is so powerful.
Gardening is as simple as we make it, and as satisfying as can be. A planter, a window box, a patch of bare soil – whatever you have access to, your family can create a healthy habitat which gives you all access to nature and to its healing qualities. The garden’s big secret is that between the gardening jobs which ebb and flow, there is the time to be still, to be calm, just soaking up the fruits of your work. Sitting amongst your plants and taking a moment.
These mindful moments that gardening gives us, they are carried inside us, carried in our bodies, and thus into our daily lives – so precious for us, and so very precious for our little ones.
A Little Boy’s Walk by Emilie Poulsson
A little boy went walking
One lovely spring time day:
He saw a little rabbit
That quickly ran away;
He saw a shining shining river
Go winding in and out,
And little fishes in it
Were swimming all about;
And slowly, slowly turning,
The great wheel of the mill;
And then the tall church steeple,
The little church so still;
The bridge above the water;
And when he stopped to rest,
He saw among the bushes
A wee ground-sparrows nest.
And as he watched the birdies
Above the tree-tops fly,
He saw the clouds a-sailing
Across the sunny sky.
He saw the insects playing;
The flowers that spring time brings;
He said, “I’ll go tell mama!
I’ve seen so many things!”