I call on governments to include horticulture on the national curriculum.
Knowing how and when to plant even a few basic vegetables will benefit everyone, from healthier kids to parents (yes, in this order as the kids would be the ones teaching parents how to), sustainable living, smaller footprint, lower carbon emissions, less waste (I can tell you, you greatly appreciate the work that goes into growing food!), less obesity, increased socialisation as food will be shared with neighbours and family and a better balance between humans and nature.
I watch in awe as my 80-something mother cultivates the small plot at my place in Katoomba. She doesn't even live there. But when she's there, she'll be pulling out the overgrown grass to reveal plants she has put in from seedlings. Propping up sweet pea that has trawled its way along the ground, onto a twig that has fallen down from the overhead gum trees. She digs out potatoes and delights in finding a purple variety that she tried planting from an old one I gave her. Mine came from the shop. She grew more.
Walking through the yard, she collects an enormous bag of wild greens that most of us will simply mow over or pull out and discard. None of which have been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. Just rain. So many greens in fact, she has enough to give to all four of her daughters, and then some. From these, she also gets the broth to drink which is extremely healthy as a digestive tea. Better gut health = better mind health.
There's nothing special about making this broth. You simply wash the greens, chop and boil in water. She prefers to add salt. Rather than throwing the water down the drain, she bottles it – and shares it with us. No need for metamucil or anti depressants ...
Yesterday's harvest also included mushrooms, courtesy of all this rain – only a handful but enough to fry up with some homegrown chillies and eggplants from her garden. Have you tasted mushrooms that you've foraged yourself?
It also included more than a handful of continental beans, which will go from the plant to the table. There is simply nothing more fresh than that. How's that for a zero footprint? And just as she has been taught to do, she'll keep a couple of the older ones collected for planting. 100% sustainable.
As much as I try by observing her and taking photographs of what she does, I don't have the know-how that she does. But the speed with which kids pick up new technology, almost from birth, I have full faith that children would pick up these skills immediately if only they were shown how to. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to bring these vital skills back, as our ageing parents begin to leave us and many of us don't have the confidence (and sadly the time) to follow in their footsteps.
It's not all about shares, investors and the bottom dollar. When it crashes, you can still go out the back and make yourself a meal.