By Olamide Tejuoso
Mid-nineties is the date; that a little agriculture hero was made out of me. The bell for garden time was always ‘unique’. The time keeper was a short primary four pupil, who would jingle the bell elatedly, screaming “Gardening!!!” Knowing what that meant, we would all troop out, class by class, to the bamboo-guarded rectangular garden in our white and blue striped uniforms.
My proprietor …, God rest his soul; his smile alone and heartwarming hugs connects you with the spirit of the garden. We simply loved it outside and on the ground. Getting our hands dirty with different kinds of soil, as we were taught, was nothing, but sheer joy. It was always a time where we could be ourselves and learn about how vegetables and flowers are grown.
Now as an adult, at a time when a friend and I walked past a bottle gourd plant and she said she didn’t know calabashes were made from them; I could boldly hold my stand, that calabashes were in fact from those trees, as I had been taught and shown, right from a very tender age. I may not necessarily be on the farm right now, but that seed of interest sown in me, I believe, would never leave me. So now, the question is, how are parents encouraging kids nowadays to get involved in agriculture? Gardening might be the answer you’re looking for!
Beyond just being educated about agriculture, making money and sending your children to good schools; these kids must be made to go through the process even from home.As an adult, I have read and observed how children in local areas often love to play with sand, and in the rain; isn’t that interesting? Not just in local or remote areas alone; some children just like to play in the dirt, sometimes messing things up. Isn’t that some symptoms of wanting to learn about agriculture already?
First things first; before you take them outside, get kids sensitised about basic things such as seeds, soil, insects and some other basic components you can think of; so they would be aware of what they might encounter. Please, note that this should be things they can handle within their age bracket. After this is done, gardening can start proper.You might want to start with the child’s interest and experience with food in the kitchen; hence, looking at few of these food for planting ideas would make this journey very interesting. That is, showing the kids how to plant what they actually eat.
Next, get to weeding and preparing the land together for cultivation. While doing this, make sure you’re prepared to answer some basic or weird questions. Then, involve the kids in all stages of gardening; from making rows, sowing seeds and planting seedlings. Most especially in this dry season, get some watering cans, which would help in teaching the children how to water plants, when they start growing. It could be bottles with holes; something the children can definitely handle. Some of the easy-to-handle plants that can be grown by children include beans, tomatoes, pepper, aloe vera plant, mint leaf plant, fluted pumpkin leaves and some other vegetables as well as flowers.
Whatever happens in the garden, dear parent, please remember that the objective is to plant that little seed of curiosity about agriculture in these children and make them really love the idea.