Reviews

Gardening is a great way for all ages to enjoy being outdoors and experience the fun of growing things. There’s no doubt that gardening is a great family activity. As well as exercise, fresh air and fun there is the prospect of encouraging healthy eating for kids by growing your own fresh produce.

Whether it be lending a hand on the vegetable plot or helping grandparents with the digging there are plenty of opportunities for growing together. So I thought I would round up some of the best ideas I have come across recently for encouraging adults and children to garden together...

There are lots of children’s books about gardening but most seem to present it as a series of projects for the summer holidays if you get bored rather than a regular family activity. However, well worth a look is Gardening With Kids which includes 35 projects to do together and is particularly good for children under 10. Young Gardener takes a different approach with ideas organised by season. So you can turn to the summer pages and find information on the wildlife to watch out for, ideas for what to sow and projects such as taking cuttings and collecting seeds. For my own children one of the best ways to encourage gardening has been to enjoy picking and eating the produce! Digging up and hunting for potatoes has been an annual favourite – natures own treasure hunt. Peas almost never make it to the pot in our house as they are so sweet when picked and eaten from the pod. Then there are tomatoes which are wonderfully easy for children to gather as it is easy to tell by the colour when they are ripe. As they grow older there are many opportunities in the kitchen to turn the produce into delicious meals. One book which captures this particularly well is

Grow It, Eat It. Published by Dorling Kindersley, it is beautifully laid out with clear step by step photographs. Each vegetable gets a double page about how to grow it followed by a double page showing a great recipe to prepare. So beans are followed by beanstalk stir-fry, onions and leeks precede delicious soup and mint can be turned into Chocolate and mint mousse. The presentation is very appealing to children and there are some particularly nice touches such as baking sunflower bread in plant pots and creating layered blueberry cheesecake in glasses.

Secret Seed Society adventure packs’.

This will particularly appeal to 3 – 9 year olds who get a seed agent card, illustrated story book and packet of cress seeds, along with ideas for projects to do in the garden and kitchen. You can sign up to become a Seed Agent on their website and receive missions linked to the adventure packs with a competition for the best photograph sent in. I would recommend exploring the website with your child first as you will soon discover if this concept appeals to them. For older children who like a more high-tech approach or are interested in science and technology, a product to watch out for is PlantCam. Due to launch this autumn in the U.S. with a cost of around $80 this is a simple to use time-lapse photography camera that can literally bring plant growth to life, as shown on this video. It is produced by the company who have developed the popular BirdCam for watching wildlife and it automatically creates the video from the photographs so that it can be viewed on any computer without needing special software. There are plenty of old-fashioned ways to enjoy a garden together as well. Hunting for worms, making homes for wildlife and even just digging up dirt all have great appeal. One of my favourites is to prepare a special picnic and just eat outdoors together. By choosing a different spot each time you can naturally interact with the things that are going on from watching butterflies to picking daisies.

Just remember to get kids to wash their hands before eating as many plants and berries can be poisonous. So there we have it, some great resources to turn gardening into a family activity and enjoy getting out together. For more information, take a look at our previous articles on Gardening With Children and Fun in the Garden. There are millions of cool ideas for gardening together, so if you have found one that works particularly well, please add a comment below so that we can share the inspiration!

24 July 2009 by Jeremy Dore - Categories: gardening children family

Be inspired to grow and cook with your little ones with The Secret Seed Society.

Forget the latest members club or pop-up speakeasy; this season the coolest secret society is celebrating all things seeds. Yep, growing your own and cooking them up has never been cooler.

The Secret Seed Society is an online community and store dedicated to teaching and encouraging parents to grow their own fruit, veg and herbs with their children. Not only does it teach kids (old and young) about where their food comes from and how, it also instills a much better attitude to food in them from a young age. And, more importantly it can be really fun.

To engage little ones in gardening The Secret Seed Society has enlisted the help of their charming veggie characters, Carla Carrot, Rudi Radish, Chrissie Cress and Mingo Mung Bean. These cute cartoons are the focal point of original short stories that can be purchased alongside seed packs. So, any aspiring gardeners, chefs or just mini food experts can learn all about growing their favourite vegetables whilst they grow them. The Story & Seed 4 Pack, £20 is the perfect gift for young growers and comes beautifully bundled up with retro airmail letters, charming illustration and of course the all important seeds. A range of other gifts from kids gardening tools to organic seed packs are also available to get your little ones sprouting green fingers as early as possible.

The Secret Seed Society site also offers parents and youngsters all the information they need to become expert seed growers. From freaky food facts for little ones to gardening tips for mum and dad, the site manages to find the balance between entertaining and educational.

To find out more about The Secret Seed Society or to start shopping for your seeds visit secretseedsociety.com.

Article published by Astrid Carter

Wonderful illustrations, an entertaining story and a free packet of rocket seeds make Rio Rocket’s adventures an enjoyable way to introduce kids to green issues

First there were the Wombles cleaning up Wimbledon Common and generally making the world a nicer place to be. Then came Captain Planet, who used the power of water, fire and (rather naffly) heart to dispatch an array of scary-faced, planet polluting baddies. The Wombles tended to unleash your inner tree-hugger while Captain Planet inspired more direct action but either way, both were great at raising awareness of the environment among children. Now there’s a newcomer on the scene: Rio Rocket.

Rio Rocket, not surprisingly, is a sprig of rocket albeit one sporting some rather natty threads and boasting an army of friends from the vegetable patch. Rio might be the star of A Frisbee to Fly but Babs Beetroot is entertaining foil for his antics along with the oddly named Albon Asparagus, Desiree Potato, Carlos Cauliflower and Stella Strawberry. There’s also a PC Peapod to bring law and order to ‘Seed City’ and its ‘seedizens’ plus a bête (or should that be bird) noire in the shape of a frisbee thieving magpie. The story itself is simple: evil magpie pinches frisbee, Rio Rocket goes on a mission with Babs Beetroot to get it back with amusing consequences.

Getting environmental messages across to small children is never the easiest of tasks but David Thomas and Amy Cooper have performed a minor miracle and turned gardening into something kids can understand. A Frisbee to Fly is beautifully illustrated too, courtesy of Valentina Cavallini, and just to be extra green, is printed on post-consumer recycled paper using vegetable inks. It also comes complete with a pack of organic Rio Rocket seeds and two little lollipop sticks so kids can measure Rio’s growing prowess. They quite possibly won’t eat it – ‘but Mum! That’s Rio…’ – but they will at least learn something about how food is grown.

Just to ram home the grow your own message, the last four pages of the book are dedicated to ‘Mission Grow’, which explains exactly how, where and when to plant your rocket seeds and offers some interesting little factoids such as (from Albon Asparagus) ‘did you know it takes asparagus two years to grow from seed?’ Well no, actually, I didn’t, so thanks for that Albon Asparagus. I also didn’t know that rocket grows so fast - it’s ready in less than two weeks. That proved real food for thought, as did the yummy (and healthy) sounding ‘Rocking Potato Pizza’ recipe. Clearly, parents have as much to learn from Rio Rocket and co as kids do.

It’s not all good news for Rio though. Children over the age of eight probably won’t be impressed; the story and the language are both too simple. It will, however, delight younger kids - especially ones who like their heroes to have a bit of get up and go. Anyone remember the poor sucker in Captain Planet who got lumbered with the ‘Heart’ power? It didn’t do anything apart from help to conjure up the Captain. Much cooler was ‘Water’ who could soak bad guys to death and ‘Earth’ who could bury them under a ton of rubble. Rio Rocket is definitely in the latter category (if a bit more gentle) and as a result, offers kids an eco hero who stands up for what he believes in. He might be a vegetable but he’s one with a wholesome message to impart and some delicious dinners to serve up. If you’re looking for Easter entertainment for your brood, Rio Rocket could well be your man. Sorry, salad.

Great Gifts for Kids

Jan 14 2013

Original, ethical and educational presents to be enjoyed by Children and grown-ups together.

Little stocking filler, perfect for posting £5

Chrissie Cress' or Mingo Mungbean's Story & Seed Pack. I recommend either of these packs for a super speedy, indoor growing adventure.

           

Starter Kit £10

The ultimate Starter Kit ; storybook and seeds of your chosen vegetable and funky windowsill propagator. The propagator is colourful, re-usable and made from recycled plastic in the UK.      

NEW! Hand Forged Secret Seed Society Trowel £15 not just for kids!

This is a beautifully crafted tool for keen young gardeners or those with smaller hands. Made in Holland to last a life-time. Combine with Story & Seed Packs for the complete Secret Seed Society experience.            

BOXSET £20

Our most popular gift, the first 4 Story & Seed Packs as a Boxset. All printed in the UK with vegetables inks. READ, GROW, COOK & EAT.              

NEW!PERSONALISED Garden Tool Giftset £60 not just for kids!

These tools will last a lifetime. A spade, mattock and rake with long handles will cover most of the gardening jobs. Great for raised beds. The tools will now arrive in the New Year, so we will send a Secret Seed Gift card to your lucky recipient for Xmas to let them know their tolls will arrive shortly.            

SPECIAL OFFER FREE POSTAGE ON ALL XMAS ORDERS

Get in touch if you have any questions about our products or would like to have Secret Seed Society at your Xmas Fayre, we can offer you a retailer discount if you'd like to sell them for your fundraiser. Best Amy & Shena xx I love TED talks so I was well chuffed to get asked to talk about 'My Adventures with Vegetables'

Write a Book Review

Feb 10 2012

 Last one to review a book is a rotten tomato!

...If you tell us what you think of our books then you will help us make MORE books. You'll also be helping children who haven't had the chance to read the books to know if they'd like to be a Seed Agent too.

Step 1 Read a Seed City Storybook.

Step 2 Tell us what you think of it. Write about it or if you prefer you could draw a picture or send us a video clip.

Step 3 Email your review to fun@secretseedsociety.com, or post to Studio 013, Netil House, 1a Westgate St, E8 3RL.

Step 4 See your opinion published on Secret Seed Society website and maybe even published in Anorak magazine!

 

Here's some questions to help you get started:

- Which book have you chosen to review and why?

- Who is your favourite character and why do you like them? Do they remind you of someone you know...your mum?

- Which character in the book would you like to be?

- Did you make the recipe? How did it taste?

- Which was the funniest page?

- How does it feel being a Seed Agent?

Send us your review and you could be the next Seed Agent of the Month!

Every review that we receive will be posted on the wesbite and will also give you the chance of becoming Seed Agent of the Month!

Now get reviewing our books, Seed Agents!

Rosie Boycott is a woman whose drive and passion for sustainable living is making unbelievable things happen! So we're over-the-moon-flattered that she likes what we're up to at the Secret Seed Society.

Londoners may have heard that last year Rosie and the Mayor of London launched the Capital Growth initiative with the aim to create 2,012 growing spaces in London by 2012 (in time for the Olympics). London is 1/3 green space, and has large amounts of roof space too that can be used for growing - we just need to use it!

Each space must be community-based so it not only improves the environment, but also provides a focal point around which people can gather and unite. By inspiring young families to get digging with their kids, Secret Seed Society hopes to help the Capital Growth team hit their 2012 target!

Happy Seed Agents!

Jun 12 2011

 

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