We’re creating a special space at River Graze for the smallest foodies among us. They’ll get to pick their own Victorian strawberries, learn how veggies grow, follow the journey from farm to plate, and taste fruity delights from Proud and Punch as they toil the soil.
For Mat from The Little Vegie Patch Co, there is no better memory for a child than those created in a garden exploring the towering tomato plants in his Nonna and Nonno's veggie patch. “It feels like my first distinct memory, but then there's a few others tangled in there too, yet they all seem to revolve around the garden”.
In an age where artificial stimulation is becoming king. Mat shares some tips on how to get your kids in a tangle with their own tomato plants:
1. Build a relationship with the garden yourself: This is the first step in getting kids involved too. Kids are pretty switched on, so they aren't going to be fooled by your attempts to get them outside, if you then swiftly U-turn inside to scroll Facebook on the iPad. You need to lead with honest enthusiasm.
2. Make it a game: My kids and I have recently taken to hunting for caterpillars on our kale plants. Surprisingly they’ve also taken to squashing them between their little, delicate fingers. Caterpillar hunting is a game that is mutually beneficial for everyone involved (with the exception of the caterpillar). It’s one of those rare win-win-lose scenarios.
3. Facts that resonate: Your children are not going to pay attention when you start listing the nutritional, physical and psychological benefits of growing your own food. Challenge your 4-year-old psyche and remember what it was like as a kid when your mum told you to eat something because “it’s good for you!”. There was an almost involuntary reaction to throw that bowl of pea soup up against the kitchen wall. A child’s thirst for knowledge is immense. Feed it with facts that will blow their mind, and perhaps even your own.
4. Get their hands dirty: Let the children run wild! The worse that can happen is your children get dirty and so does your sofa, and no doubt the hallway rug, but the best result is that they take to gardening so wildly, that they become the automated watering system you’ve always dreamt about.
Make sure you take the little ones along to Little Foodies as part of River Graze where there will be plenty of fun activities for them to learn where all their food groups come from.
As well as this, Melbourne Water have some extra fun planned on the day to teach children that water is the #secretingredient in all the fresh fruit and veggies we eat. They'll be giving out free heirloom tomato seeds from Little Veggie Patch Co so you can get growing with the kids at home; then take them along to see the world’s largest floating fruit bowl and discover how healthy water is the secret ingredient to Melbourne’s thriving food culture.