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Growing wise

Soil Association and Pukka Herbs are helping to pass planting knowledge down to the next generations
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Growing wise with the Soil Association

This article first appeared in our spring ’18 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Conscious Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 04 May 2018. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

This generation has less contact with the natural world than ever before; nearly 60% of children are spending less time outdoors than their parents, and only 46% enjoy activities in Nature with their parents and grandparents.

Naturalists and environmentalists including Sir David Attenborough, George Monbiot and writer Robert Macfarlane have warned of the social and developmental costs of a lack of contact with the natural world – but how can we redress the balance?

Use your mobile to trace your food – Soil Association’s Hayley Coristine explains why the future of food is going digital

Know your roots

Soil Association Food for Life is working with Pukka Herbs to help get kids outside and in touch with Nature by growing their own herbs at schools and nurseries around the country.

The Know Your Roots campaign kicked off in time for Grandparents’ Gardening Week in March, during which 14 nurseries and schools received a raised herb planter complete with seeds, compost and all the resources needed to help them kick-start their herb-growing journey.

Armed with spades and seeds, children got to learn new skills by growing alongside their parents and grandparents. They got their hands dirty learning how to plant, water and care for herbs, and found out about the culinary and medicinal uses of the plants that would soon be sprouting from the seeds.

The extra hands and help meant that school and nursery growing spaces were rejuvenated in time for spring, and the intergenerational links had all-round benefits. Children were able to improve their knowledge about gardening and growing, and grandparents took pleasure from participating in a project that would benefit their community.


Spending time in Nature has been associated with increased wellbeing in children, and new research from the University of the West of England’s Public Health and Wellbeing Research Group reveals that pupils who grew their own veg in school experienced clear benefits.

The research found that these children were more likely to increase their fruit and veg intake, become more aware of the links between food growing and the environment and have better attention and attainment levels in school.

While Grandparents’ Gardening Week ended in March, the Know Your Roots campaign will continue until July as part of a commitment to 1% for the Planet. This global network of organisations is working together for a happier, healthier planet.

Make it happen

It’s easy to start growing at home with your kids – and it can be great fun. Nothing beats the magic of seeing the shoot from the first seed you’ve sown

  • Pick a fast-growing plant to keep their interest; quick-sprouting seeds like sunflower, cress and pumpkin take less than a week to germinate.
  • Eggshells can be great pots for seedlings – and they’re perfect for decorating with non-toxic pens! Use a needle to make a drainage hole, then plant the shell with soil and seeds. Make sure the shell pot’s left in a spot with plenty of light, then water with a spray bottle and plant outside (you can leave the shell on or crack it off) when leaves appear.
  • Get creative – wellies, sandcastle buckets and old toys are just some of the many objects that can be used as planters – alternatively build your own using LEGO!
  • Let there be mud. Kids love getting their hands dirty and they’re rarely able to, so put them in old clothes and let them enjoy it.

Click here to find out more about the Know Your Roots campaign.

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