As a child, I would watch my beloved grandmother in the garden and join her in her activities. I loved the flowers and plants she had in it. My paternal grandparents also loved gardening and had a vegetable garden and chickens in the backyard – and again, I would love exploring what was growing there. Their gardens were a big influence as I grew up. Mum and dad weren’t gardeners but then again, bringing up 4 children probably took up much of their time. However, when I was a teenager I did grow things in my parent’s backyard and loved the challenge of it.
This past week I was privileged to represent the Horticultural Media Association (HMA), of which I am a member, giving the journalism award to a student from Swan Hill, during the Victorian Schools Garden Awards. Until a couple of months ago I didn’t even know these awards existed. My husband and I have been very aware, though, of the passion for gardens in local schools not far from us. We first visited The Patch Primary School about 3 years ago on an open day, and I’ve also visited the Belgrave South Primary School on a couple of occasions, exploring their kitchen garden and plans for expansion – mainly through my role in a local Rotary Club.
It excites me that children of today are being taught the importance of biodiversity and how our planet and our very existence is dependent upon the tree and plant life that surrounds us. I wish we’d been taught these things when I was at school. It is my generation that has ruined many places on our planet by removing huge amounts of forests and also, therefore, threatening the continued existence of many animals in different countries. It is a sad state we’re currently in and I hope that the education of today’s children will mean that tomorrow’s adults will set about restoring and repairing some of the damage made to our planet – if it is possible.
I find, as I grow older, that there is an affinity between me and the earth and all that grows within. Just this morning I watched a baby Currawong with its parent, in our backyard and love that the local bird life call our place home too. More and more I want to be outside, rather than inside on a daily basis.
Going back to the awards event, it was opened with a traditional indigenous smoking ceremony, whereby all indigenous folk were invited to move forward first, followed by the rest of the visitors for this awards event. This is to help ward off bad spirits, acknowledge ancestors and pay respect to the land. After that we were all invited to sit as the awards presentations took place. There were a lot of excited children in the audience and so many different schools represented and yet, I feel, was only a small number really, compared to how many schools I know exist in our state. I hope that many more schools take up this wonderful educational tool and develop a garden for the children to look after, on their own school grounds.
Some photos I took of the event below. Click on an image to view at a larger size. And congratulations to Berwick Lodge Primary School for their major prize win.