Sacha’s Corner: Get your hands dirty

In her latest column, journalist and mum-of-two Sacha McNeil reveals the secret bond her family shares with Barack Obama.
Sacha McNeil Hilary Barry

In our house we are vegetable and seed growing enthusiasts, or as I like to look at it, political activists.

I enjoyed a robust protest rally back in my time at university, however this more gentle, subdued movement doesn’t morph into a pub crawl (unfortunately) or involve the chance of arrest. The kids have their own little pile of pots overflowing with tattered parsley and basil gone to seed, and are blissfully unaware that their little plot is making a quiet statement.

There’s something to be said for attempting a small slice of self sufficiency.

Our green beans and spinach travel an average of ten steps from garden to kitchen, with the added bonus of not having to take off my slippers to go and buy them from the shops. Our intentioned gardening is a small protest against buying from corporate giants every time, and the kids are learning that their food largely starts with a seed and shouldn’t end up in plastic wrap.

Great minds think alike – the same year Barack Obama was sworn in as the President of the United States, his wife got busy digging up their new lawn to make way for the largest vegetable patch the white house has seen.

That’s about where the similarities between our family and the Obamas end.

Getting kids in the garden has lots of benefits

But I’m sure they enjoy the same gains from their garden – dirt traipsed through the West Wing after plucking dinner form the garden, cat pee sprinkled on the First Lady’s lettuce leaves and plump caterpillars adding extra protein to fresh salads.

Putting aside politics, there’s much more for little green fingers to learn from this practice of tending to a patch. In our garden we’ve watched the seasons come and go and studied the life cyles of creatures inhabiting the garden. An added incentive is an increased willingness by the wee people to give the vegetables that they planted, watered and grew a nibble from their plate.

Regardless of my protesting aspirations, the satisfaction of a home grown vegetable tastes sweeter than an overpriced, out of season, vegetable wrapped in plastic which has racked up the food miles. Why not get digging?

For more ideas to keep your family active, check out My Family Activities

Sacha McNeil is a journalist, news presenter and busy mum of two. Join her each week as she shares the lessons she has learnt about parenting – and the things she is still trying to figure out. From dealing with fussy eaters, how to keep toddlers entertained and everything in between, Sacha’s practical advice is both motivating and often hilarious.

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