It seems that Sara and I are not the only ones hoping to inspire a new generation of growers. Tracy Wathen-Jones is on a mission to teach children about the benefits of growing organically. She’s just self-published the first in what she hopes will be a series of tales about Marigold the Organic Gardening Witch and her adventures. This one touches on subjects like companion planting, conserving water, dealing with slugs and growing your own food. The book is beautifully illustrated by Sarah Leigh-Wills, who has a real eye for what would delight a young reader and it would make an interesting starting point for discussions with your own children or a class about how to manage your garden organically.
Tracy’s passion for organic growing is obvious. We asked her about what got her started and why she thinks it’s so important to encourage children to grow things.
My Nan was a market gardener with about an acre of greenhouses, fruit cages and vegetable beds and I remember spending hours with her in her garden as soon as I could walk.
When children grow their own food and flowers it stimulates their natural curiosity, teaches them a sense of responsibility and connects them to nature.
Tracy has just finished the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement’s EU Organic leadership programme and is working on her MSc in organic farming at the moment alongside being mum to her four children. It was when she was homeschooling her children on their smallholding in Ireland that Tracy decided that the way forward for her to ‘teach’ about organic growing and farming was through story telling. She has plenty of horticultural achievements to draw on when writing.In Ireland my husband and I set up our own independent garden centre and in its first year it won ‘Best Plant Centre’ for Ireland and we also won a gold medal for a large show garden we created for a garden festival named ‘Backyard Camping’.
Many schools garden using organic principles and Tracy has some top tips for getting the best out of your organic plot.
1.Look after and feed your soil.
2.Companion plant vegetables and flowers together to attract beneficial insects into your garden.
3.Rotate vegetable crops around the garden to prevent a build up of soil borne pests and diseases.
She’s also clear about why it is so important to get a new generation of people into gardening?
Our gardens form a mosaic of habitats across the UK which provide a home for wildlife, can feed us with home grown produce and provide us with a sense of well being. Therefore it is vitally important to encourage the next generation to appreciate gardening and learn the necessary skills needed to garden sensitively.
Tracy’s book is available priced at £7.99 from her website