As you may recall, on 31 October we received a visit from my friend Aimee Walker and her lovely three children. Aimee lives on the North Shore with her husband Dave and their kids. Aimee and I became friends while we were at law school. Although we stayed in touch over the years, we hadn’t seen each other in 13 years! Aimee recently decided to home school her kids and came to Anita’s Garden for a day of gardening education for Mischa, 11, Isabelle, 9 and Lucas, 2. Together, we compiled a little report that covers what we got up to during the day.
In July of this year our family embarked on a new adventure – homeschooling! We’ve been taking a theme each term and exploring how various subjects and disciplines intersect with it and this term we’ve had nature and the garden as our overarching theme. I wanted the girls to have a greater awareness of their environment and to start thinking about how we could pursue a more self-sustainable lifestyle moving forward. We’ve been dabbling in a bit of bird-watching, keeping a track of the different species that frequent our backyard; beginning to grow some seedlings that we got from New World’s ‘Little Garden’ promotion and have focused our cooking nights on using seasonal produce (once a fortnight the girls make a main and dessert that is connected to our current theme – last term was Italian, nom nom!).
I’ve known Anita since we were at Law School together and had enjoyed seeing her Facebook posts and pictures of what she had started with her garden, so I thought this term presented us with the perfect reason to make a trip across town and check it out for ourselves. I also want the girls to learn from people who are passionate about what they do and their area of specialty because we all know passion is contagious.
As you’ll read, we all instantly knew when we’d arrived at the right property when we saw her thriving and extensive garden. From the moment we arrived, Anita and her Mum were warm and inviting, opening up not only their garden but also their home. The information and activities that Anita had planned for the kids to do had been thoughtfully prepared and it was an incredible opportunity for us to glean from her expertise. We were stunned at the variety of produce that she has been able to grow and can’t wait to go back and see how her mini orchard is going.
What Anita has accomplished at Anita’s Garden is truly inspiring and while most of us will not be able to establish a garden on the same scale, her work gives us a window into what is possible and reminds us that we do not have to dream of moving to the countryside to be able to take steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle. We can start right where we are!
Which is exactly what we’ll be doing – here’s hoping my children have greener thumbs than their mother!
At first I was unsure which garden was Anita’s. To me, they all looked the same. But as we drove further down the street I knew which garden was hers - it was the only garden in the street that was full of colour and flowers… Lots of flowers.
One of the first things Anita did with us, was to take us through the garden. It was so incredible to see the plant nursery, the veggies, and the flowers. We were a bit hungry afterwards so we had lunch (it was delicious!).
It was exciting getting to harvest the veggies, my sister Isabelle and I harvested Kale, Broad Beans, and Silverbeet. I also loved getting to plant the tomato plants. We started by putting some dirt in the bucket then we put in the tomatoes and then we filled up the bucket with more dirt, added some fertiliser and then watered them. I think my brother Lucas enjoyed playing with the watering cans!
I think it would be hard but fun to be a gardener. Weeding the garden would be hard work and if the plants didn’t grow that would be terrible, horrible and NO good. But, it would be fun to be a gardener because you could watch the plants grow, get your hands dirty, and eat the food that you’ve grown!
Recently Mum took Misha and I to Anita’s Garden because we are learning about nature and planting vegetables. When we arrived we knew it was her garden because there were so many different plants on the front lawn.
One of my favourite things was the tour of the garden. I saw lots of beautiful fruits, vegetables and flowers. I thought the flowers were so pretty so I took lots of pictures.
Another one of my favourite things to do was plant tomatoes. The first thing we did to plant the tomatoes was put soil into plastic buckets, then we watered the soil. After that we put the tomato plants into the buckets and then watered the soil again. Then we got a piece of string and a long bamboo stick and tied the tomato plant to the stick so the plant wouldn`t fall over. After we finished planting the tomatoes we did some harvesting. We harvested silverbeet and broad beans - it was so much fun.
When my friend Aimee contacted me and asked if she could bring Mischa and Isabelle around for a day of education at Anita’s Garden, I immediately said yes. Aimee and I attended law school together and though we had not seen each other since graduating from university, we remained in close contact with one another even while I was living and working overseas. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to catch up, as we live on opposite sides of Auckland from each other. Home schooling is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand. As a lot of you will know, I am a huge fan of education of any nature. I was therefore instantly on board with teaching the girls all about how food is grown and giving them a practical exercise so they could get some hands on experience in the garden.
I hadn’t met Aimee’s children before so we began with some introductions. We then took a detailed tour of the garden. The swan plants were a talking point for us. The girls had already studied the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and really enjoyed looking at the many caterpillars on the plants. Another stopping point was my patch of wildflowers. Everyone (including Lucas) was taken aback by the number of bumble bees drawn to the blue flowers. After our tour, we took a break for lunch, enjoying some fresh produce from the garden. Afterwards, the girls each planted a cherry tomato in a container to take home and look after. We also harvested some vegetables together – broad beans, kale, silverbeet, leeks and celery. There was also plenty of produce from Anita’s Garden and some plants for the Walker family to take home, as you can see from the photo. All in all, everyone had a wonderful day. This is something that I would really like to continue to do in future. I also really hope that Aimee and her family return to Anita’s Garden in autumn, so the girls can see how the garden has evolved and learn more about the harvesting process. I will follow up with another report later in the season which covers their next visit.