I recently hosted my second "Planting an Edible Garden" workshop with around 15 kids at Galleryske, Bangalore. The age group ranged from 3-8 years and I began with a story telling session of "A Garrulous Gastronauts' Guide". My audience was quite engaged and interactive during the book reading, giving their inputs and opinions about the meanings of words and the characters. While explaining the concept of food miles (the distance our food travels from farm to plate) I was correctly informed about travel routes from Bangalore to America, right down to where I might have to take a connecting flight!
We then broke for a delicious brownie break (chocolate and beetroot whole wheat brownies courtesy Aashti) before starting on our planting session. I had pre-soaked coriander and fenugreek / methi seeds for the participants to plant. Everyone got a big terra-cotta pot for the coriander and a smaller one for the methi. We dug into a large pile of red soil with our bare hands to ready the pots for planting. I remember as a child I loved playing in sand pits, gardening with my grand uncle and splashing around in puddles. It's unfortunate to see how so many kids now days shy away from getting a little dirty. Is it parents who are encouraging their children to become germ-phobes or TV commercials going on about kitanos that cause so much damage? I hope the present and future generation of children reach for a pile of mud instead of a bottle of hand sanitizer every now and then.
After planting the seeds everyone watered and hand drew labels for their pots with much gusto. I hope everyone is watering their pots regularly…
Before the parents came we all sat down for a light lunch of pasta, lime juice and fruit salad. I was quite disheartened when some of the previously eager participants refused to eat. When I reminded them that to be food explorers like Cheeku they would have to try out all types of food with enthusiasm instead of being encouraged, I was clearly told what their food preferences were and how they know exactly what they liked and disliked.
I think it's our responsibility as adults, whether parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles to be more open minded and enthusiastic about the world around us, especially around the children in our lives. In the mean time I'll definitely try and work on my workshop to make Cheeku's ideals have a bit more of an impact!
Photographs by Revati Pandya