May 24, 2017

Guest Post: The Laneway Park – A Community Garden for Kids

The Laneway Park project sign

The Laneway Park project is a children's community garden

Today’s guest post has been written by Lee Upton, mum of three and currently working as a researcher on a University program focusing on children’s fundamental movement skills, physical activity and nutrition. She is passionate about kids getting hands on in the garden and being an active member of her community working on The Laneway Park children’s community garden as well as her children’s school kitchen garden.

As a mum of three and a passionate gardener, I love nothing more than seeing my kids get their hands grubby planting seedlings, their eyes light up as they pull a carrot from the garden and how a favourite snack is handfuls of mint straight off the plant.

As a parent I believe in letting kids explore their environment and nature. I also believe that children need to understand the growing process and that our food doesn’t just come from the supermarket and I try to instil values of environmental responsibility and sustainably as part of everyday life.

In our two small backyard colourbond garden beds are things that are easy to grow (and often expensive to buy at the supermarket!) such as spring onions, every variety of herb as well as dwarf lemon and lime trees. We also add in some fun things that the kids choose themselves such as rainbow chard and heirloom carrots, which come in a variety of colours such as purple and pink, and the kids’ just love eating them.

Watering the garden is a task kids love

Watering the garden is a great backyard activity that lets kids connect with nature and be involved in gardening.

No space in your backyard for a garden bed?

Our local park, affectionately known as The Laneway Park, as it is situated along a laneway between residential houses, was essentially a grass paddock. What started as a few mums talking one afternoon at the park soon snowballed into a neighbourhood committee with the aim of creating a community garden specifically for children. The aim was not to grow a mountain of produce but to enable children to have a space to dig in the dirt, plant some seedlings, water and watch it grow.

The first Laneway Park working bee

The first working bee saw the garden beds constructed, fences painted and a handmade mosaic signage installed.

With the help from the local councils ‘Make Your Place’ community grant program and donations from local businesses we turned an unexciting park into a great space for children to experience gardening outside the home. The children plant things that are easy to grow as well as good for little hands to pick and eat such cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and herbs to take home and add to dinner.

Colourful garden art in the children's garden

A community garden doesn’t have to be big and is a great way to introduce children to gardening if you have limited space in your own home.

There are many local councils who offer generous grants to community groups with environmentally focused projects and a community garden is a great way to participate in your community, meet like minded families and give children opportunities to be hands on with gardening.

In our local area there are also great large scale community gardens that welcome visitors to help feed the chooks, pull a few weeds and take home a handful of fresh veggies. Find your local community garden here.

The Laneway Park raised garden beds

Our beds filled with produce for the kids.

 

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