There is always something so special about seeing children at the allotment. Time spent outdoors is becoming scarce in modern childhood due to a mix of over-scheduling activities and endless screen time. For the past few days, we have had one of our godchildren stay and we have loved sharing the joy of the allotment with him. He was really excited to meet all the chickens and to learn how to feed them. Flora has come out of her shell as has shown herself to be an especially curious chicken, obsessed with pecking shoes. This caused much hilarity with my godson as he tried to keep his brightly coloured shoe laces away from Flora’s determined beak!
On Sunday afternoon, we walked down and while my husband napped in the shed, we explored the plot. Food is always more exciting if you have to harvest it first, and he had great enjoyment pulling potatoes and rummaging through the soil to make sure there weren’t any left behind. We collected so many that we were thankful to have parked the car outside the gate! A thorough counting of the potatoes resulted in an impressive total of 70! This exciting news was enthusiatically shared with anyone who asked what he had been doing on the plot. For good measure, we also harvested several onions, a handful of purple french beans and a lone turnip. The mixture of pride and excitement on his face as we arrived home with armfuls of produce was so special.
On Monday, he was so confident with the chickens, I put him in charge of the chickens and he did a superb job of collecting eggs, giving treats and topping up their food. Flushed with success, I thought it would be fun to get him to dress up in my bee suit. As he was putting it all on, I spotted Phil and asked whether we could open up one of the hives so he could see inside. Kindly, Phil lent me some spare bee suit, the smoker and hive tool and we set off to the community garden. I let our godchild choose which hive we would open and showed him how to smoke the bees. When we got down to the broody boxes, he helped smoke the bees and was brave enough to hold a frame of bees whilst I quickly got a photo!
Before we left, we also cleared the weeds from the bottom section of the plot. His enthusiasm was infections and we got rid of all the weeds in record time. There is something entirely absorbing about working with soil and our screen-loving protege forgot all about online gaming, apps and YouTube videos in the enjoyment of digging through the soil. We even foraged for some berries and although some were declared “Not nice”, others were approved.
As a final touch, we collected some of the Jonagold apples to make an apple crumble. Helping in the kitchen to make pudding kept the enthusiasm, even when crumble isn’t the pudding of choice! As for those of us who love crumble, we scoffed it with glee knowing it was home grown and all the more delicious for it!