Thoughts on Gardening with Young Kids


Our EcoMatters Community Garden and EcoHub Education Coordinator Meg Liptrot shares more about her video blog, Thoughts on Gardening with Young Kids.

This little film was made during lockdown level 4 at our home in Westmere, with my 2.5 year old son, Alfie, the convenient star of the show.

We recommend you watch this video in full screen mode, for best effect.

The challenge posed by EcoMatters CEO, Damon Birchfield was to get more happening online, as I’d had to cancel or postpone a number of workshops that were due to happen as part of EcoFest West due to the lockdown.

One of our lovely tutors was game to record herself at home and we produced a couple of little taster videos of our Healthy Eating workshop series. We hope to produce more along the same lines with Paloma Velasquez again, and other EcoMatters tutors.

I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t own an iphone which many people use to film themselves. Our Sony CamCorder was in storage and inaccessible.

So that left figuring out how to use my SLR camera, which has always been used for photography, to record video.  And then figuring out the editing side of things, a learning curve, but rewarding. The macro lens on this camera is perfect for photographing closeups in the garden, and it lent itself a certain photographic quality in the video closeups.

On nice days I’d pop down and film in the garden and practise holding the camera as steadily as I could while moving – quite a challenge with a heavy lens! I’m still determined to capture the tui frequenting our banana flowers, but not quite ‘stealth’ enough yet.

I had plenty of ideas of what to film, and some of those involved filming myself, which was nigh on impossible. On occasion I’d film Alfie doing his thing in the garden, and both pieces of footage of him were unprompted. They are just Alfie enjoying himself and raiding the ripe Koanga cherry tomatoes.

About our garden

Our garden was developed over time, the initial edible plantings began during my studies of Sustainable Horticulture at Unitec back in 1999-2000. I was passionate about urban food production, and wrote a dissertation on the subject.

Ours is a tiny cross-leased site, but we’ve planted over 25 fruiting species, plus vegetable gardens. The warm sheltered side of the house (sandwiched between our verandah and the two story property to the north of the house) suited screening, so a subtropical food forest was planted here. On the more exposed side of the house, where we have a large titoki, I planted more openly – a golden delicious apple, navel orange, olive tree, feijoa archway, underplanted with renga renga. A central courtyard links the two zones, this is the sunniest spot and where we have a raised macrocarpa vege bed plus water feature.

Down the east boundary of the house, along our narrow fence line, I planted the pear for espaliering. We have 8 mature feijoa trees and they fruited abundantly during the lockdown. Alfie enjoyed collecting them and filling paper bags then making little cards for neighbours down our street at Easter.

Our garden was very handy to photograph over the four years I wrote the garden column for the Herald, and this video has been a lovely opportunity to film it for posterity. It just so happens we sold this house and bought another in the nick of time before lockdown. The end of an era, but I’m looking forward to becoming a ‘true’ Westie.

All the outdoor activities suggested are things we do with Alfie, lockdown restrictions or not, and I hope they inspire others to enjoy their gardens with their family. Nature and outdoor experiences can’t be beaten in terms of the learning and experiential opportunities for children, there’s so much fun to be had, learning just happens – and they’re more likely to eat their veges!

Keen to learn more about edible gardening?

Join Meg’s Dig Grow Learn organic garden sessions on Fridays, 11am – 2pm at EcoMatters Environment Trust. Please email Meg to RSVP.